THE BLOG

A Pre-Nup for St Valentine's Day

12/02/2014 11:03 GMT | Updated 13/04/2014 10:59 BST

What could be more romantic than soft music, subdued lighting, fine food and a pre-nuptial agreement?

At this time of year as we approach Valentine's Day, the traditional day of love and one of the most popular dates in the calendar to propose, there are no doubt thousands of men and women thinking that this year could be a special one.

Obviously the rules of courtship have changed significantly but 14 February remains a day when statistically more people take the plunge and propose. So when you are down on one knee, what should you be thinking?

Some men may be concerned about the financial consequences of getting married and perhaps they are the people who should be thinking about entering a pre-nuptial agreement.

Under plans announced last week according to The Times and the Daily Mail the Law commission is shortly due to deliver its long awaited report into the recognition of pre-nuptial agreements and a possible shake up of divorce laws.

The Commission's report is due at the end of this month but is widely thought that it will include provisions which will enshrine the position of pre-nuptial, post-nuptial and separation agreements on the statute book.

This could make it much easier for a party who comes to a marriage with substantial assets - whether inherited; a family company or built up by their own endeavours - to retain them. For some years now, since the case of Radmacher in 2010, there has been an acceptance that marital agreements will be taken into account provided that each party has access to independent legal advice, there has been disclosure and that they are fair. It is expected that these safeguards will remain under the law Commission's proposals.

It is also rumoured that the Commission will recommend wholesale changes to the way in which maintenance is dealt with. English law is largely out of step with European counterparts with lifetime orders still being made - it is possible that the recommendations will include limiting the time span for maintenance to perhaps two to three years as is the case for many of our near neighbours. Such clarity would be welcome and long overdue.

At this point one may expect to hear a chorus of "pre nuptial agreements are not romantic". However, if you have the ability to sit down with your intended and consider all of the issues that a pre nuptial may contain - including your expectations for the future; what you intend in childcare terms and how you will share the fruits of your labour - then you are setting a firm foundation for your future relationship enhanced by mutual trust and in an honest atmosphere.

When you consider that there will also need to be full and frank disclosure of your financial position then trust is enhanced and there are no secrets. What could be more romantic than that!

The report has been many years in consultation and could herald major changes soon. Watch this space.