The first day legal offices open after the festive break has become the busiest day of the year for divorce enquiries, and one leading family lawyer has advised those getting married to “think carefully” before dismissing the idea of a pre-nuptial agreement.
Mark Day, a partner and specialist in family law at York based Langleys Solicitors, says that pre-nuptial agreements are in need of an image change, and that couples, particularly those embarking on second marriages who might wish to preserve their assets for their children, would be wise to consider drawing up an agreement.
“While marriage proposals increase over the festive period, sadly break-ups are also more common than at any other time of year,” said Mark Day.
“So much time spent together can bring underlying issues to light, and January is always our busiest month for separation and divorce enquiries.
“Pre-nuptial agreements are not romantic, but they can certainly make proceedings considerably easier for all involved, should a relationship fail.”
He added: “Couples are often now committing to marriage later in life, and so both parties will often have accrued substantial assets of their own, prior to meeting their future spouse. It is not unreasonable to wish to preserve those assets. “
Pre-nuptial agreements are also becoming more common in the context of second marriages, where each individual may wish to protect their assets for the future benefit of their respective children.
Historically, pre-nuptial agreements were given little accord in the UK when it came to carving up assets in the event of divorce, but that looks likely to change in the near future, following a draft bill earlier this year from the Law Commission, which recommends changes in government legislation.
Mr Day said: “There have been several high profile cases in recent years, particularly that of the German heiress Katrin Radmacher in the UK Supreme Court, which have consequently seen English courts more willing to take pre-nuptial agreements into account.
“Think of it in the same way you would a health insurance policy. Hopefully you will never need it, but knowing it’s there will give you peace of mind.”
Mark Day is the only divorce solicitor in York recommended in both Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners directories, and his speciality is in resolving the financial aspects of separation and divorce. He deals almost exclusively with complex and high value cases.