During a month when divorce rates are traditionally high, a legal expert is warning of the importance of what is known as a pre-nuptial agreement in order to protect personal and business assets.
January is known as a busy period for divorces, with enquiries increasing in the first week back to work.
Family & divorce lawyers believe this is often because a struggling couple, or an unhappy partner, may put off plans for separation until after Christmas – often for the sake of children.
Napthens solicitors’ family team reports that, in keeping with national trends, it is also seeing increased enquiries from separating couples.
Helen Lucking, head of Family & Divorce at the regional law firm, pointed out that divorce can have serious impact on both personal and business lives, and a pre-nuptial agreement, signed before marriage, is one way to protect assets.
She explained: “Simply put, preparing a pre-nuptial agreement and making sure that business assets are protected is not romantic and is not what most people have at the front of their mind when they’re planning a wedding.
“However, circumstances do change and unfortunately divorce is a fact of life, and particularly where a relationship is complicated by a business owned jointly, it is sensible to plan for any eventuality.
“While pre-nuptial agreements are not yet legally binding in the UK, they are given weight by courts if both parties have agreed the content. They are a good way to ensure that the assets both parties bring to a marriage are protected.
“For business assets, partnership or shareholders agreements can be used to clearly set out ownership so difficult situations can be avoided.
“Anyone who may find themselves in such a situation should seek legal advice to understand the best way forward.”