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    Seddons' research reveals majority of couples shun prenups and cohabitation agreements

    Summary

    Our nationwide survey found that just 2% of the married respondents had entered into a prenup, and 95% had not discussed getting one

    Research commissioned by Seddons, in conjunction with the Marriage Foundation, has found a staggeringly low level of interest in entering into prenuptial agreements amongst couples who are married or who are planning to marry and a worrying lack of awareness amongst couples living together of cohabitation agreements.

    In a nationwide survey of over 2,000 adults, undertaken by Populus, just 2% of the married respondents had entered into a prenup before getting married, with the vast majority (95%) never even discussing a prenup as an option. Of those respondents that are living with a partner – but not married or in a civil partnership – only 4% had in place a cohabitation agreement, with 79% of cohabiting respondents stating they were not even aware of the existence of cohabitation agreements.

    Other key findings of the research include:

    Marriage and Prenuptial agreements

    • A tiny amount of married respondents (2%) had discussed the possibility of getting a prenup, but decided against it.  Reasons given included “I trust we will stay together” and “Neither of us had any money when we married”
    • Despite the cost of divorce being high*, almost half (45%) of respondents cited “being happy to keep to the traditional marriage system” as the main reason for not getting a prenup
    • Almost 4 in 10 respondents (38%) said entering a prenup had never crossed their minds
    • Just 5% of respondents said they did not enter into a prenup because they did not like the idea of it or because they were uncomfortable to raise the subject with their partner
    • Of those respondents who are currently in a relationship, but not yet married or in a civil partnership, 13% had discussed with their partner making a formal commitment by way of marriage or civil partnership with a prenup, compared to 22% who had discussed marriage or civil partnership, but without discussing a prenup

    Cohabitation

    • 5% of cohabiting couples said they had formally decided how they would split their belongings if they were to break-up, without having a cohabitation agreement
    • A further 13% of cohabitees surveyed had informally discussed how they would divide their possessions in the event of a break-up
    • The vast majority of cohabiting respondents (72%), had never discussed the subject of a  cohabitation agreement

    Deborah Jeff, Partner and Head of the Family Department at Seddons, commented on the findings:

    “Despite the increasing public references to prenuptial agreements – particularly amongst high-net worth individuals – our research has found that for the vast majority of people prenups are not a part of their relationship planning.  There is a lack of understanding of how important a prenuptial agreement may be and its enforceability now in English law.  Provided the agreement is properly prepared, fair and all reasonable needs are met, they can be of magnetic importance and extremely persuasive if a marriage ends in divorce.  They also demonstrate to a court that from the outset of a marriage the parties had decided for themselves how their finances should be divided. 

    “What is worrying from our research, is the number of cohabiting couples that have not put in place a  cohabitation agreement. This reinforces concerns that many unmarried couples who live together are unaware of their rights if the relationship breaks down, with some mistakenly relying on the myth of the common law marriage. With increasing numbers of couples living together before or instead of entering into marriage or civil partnership, it is likely we will see more disputes over the division of assets following separation.”

    * Research undertaken by Seddons in 2016 found that the average cost of reaching a financial settlement on divorce was £70,243 for UK couples

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