New Marriage Foundation research finds one in five UK weddings involve prenups and that they neither increase nor reduce the risk of divorce
Prenuptial agreements – prenups – are legal arrangements signed prior to a marriage that are intended to plan for the division of assets should that marriage fail. Prior to the famous Radmacher case in 2010, there was a great deal of legal doubt about the enforceability of prenups above and beyond the normal constraints of divorce law.
But how common are prenups? And how do they effect subsequent marriages?
A brief search of US family journals and Google Scholar reveals much on the legal aspects of prenups but precious little on their prevalence or effect.
Having personally run marriage preparation courses in Bristol for over 500 couples between 2002 and 2012, my expectation was that prenups were only ever a curiosity for the super-rich.
Like others, I find the idea of prenups deeply unromantic. “Darling will you marry me?” “Oh yes.” “Could you now sign this prenup so I can keep all my stuff in case it goes wrong?”
No thank you.
I had also assumed that thinking about divorce in advance might actually make divorce more likely. So if anything I expected prenups to be associated with a higher risk of divorce.
Almost as an afterthought, I included a question on prenups in the survey of 2,027 ever married adults over 30 that we commissioned from the polling company Savanta ComRes in July 2021.
The focus throughout was on first marriages.
In the event that very few in the sample had actually signed one, we added in a sub-question about whether respondents even knew anyobody who had signed one.
The results were a big surprise.