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Getting Married? Consider Protecting Your Business With a Pre-Nuptial Agreement

Suzy Hamshaw, a family lawyer with Charles Lucas & Marshall, says that business owners planning to get married should give some thought as to how they may want to protect their business.

Suzy Hamshaw - Divorce Specialist, Family Law Expert and Financial Claims on Divorce

Suzy Hamshaw

As a business person you have worked hard and sacrificed time and money to build up a successful business. No doubt luck has played its part and you have taken some risks but not without managing and minimizing the risks as much as possible.

You may not think it at the time, but getting married is a financial risk to your business. Statistically you are more likely to divorce than to stay married for life.

The principle of the court, in divorce cases, is to divide assets including business assets, fairly between the couple, considering each party’s reasonable needs and the sharing of any wealth above that which fulfils those needs.

When dividing assets, the court will measure the end result against a benchmark 50/50 asset split to assess whether anything other than that is justified.

While the contributions of the parties can be a factor, the court will normally take the view that the role of the ‘homemaker’ is no less valuable than that of the ‘breadwinner.’

If you are considering getting married and have built up a successful business, you should consider a pre-nuptial agreement to protect your business in the unhappy event of a divorce so that no claim can be made on its value and/or a sharing of its income.

A pre-nuptial agreement is an agreement that parties reach before they are married which sets out basic rules in relation to the division of matrimonial property and can protect business assets against a claim in the event of a relationship breaking down.

If the marriage has already taken place you can still enter into an agreement, referred to as post-nuptial agreements and these are just as effective as a pre-nuptial agreement.

While pre-nuptial agreements are not binding on the courts, the recent Supreme Court landmark decision of Radmacher -v- Granatino held that courts should give effect to a nuptial agreement freely entered into by each party – with a full appreciation of its implications – unless in the circumstances prevailing, it would not be fair to hold the parties to their agreement.

This decision has given significant weight to the signing of nuptial agreements, which had previously provided little guarantee after the breakdown of a marriage.

If your marriage does end in a divorce then having a pre-nuptial agreement in place, setting out the distribution and management of assets, should enable the divorce to proceed with minimal disruption to you and your business.

If you have business interests to preserve, then such an agreement is a recommended step to protect your hard earned assets and achievements.

For expert and specialist advice on Pre-Nuptial and Post-Nuptial Agreements please contact Suzy Hamshaw on 01635 521212 or

Written by Suzy Hamshaw

December 9th, 2014 at 9:59 am