Pre-Nups and the Family Business

Pre-Nuptial Agreements can be a thorny subject between a couple when they are planning a wedding. No-one likes to think the marriage will not work and a Pre-Nup is, of course, on the basis of what will happen if it doesn’t.

It is better if a couple can address a Pre-Nup as early as possible before the big day so they can then deal with it, get it out of the way, and focus on all the much pleasanter arrangements for their wedding.

One particular aspect of Pre-Nups that can cause difficulty is the family business. I will refer in this example to the Husband-to-be but it could equally be the Wife-to-be’s family who have the business. I will call our couple Ryan and Megan.

If there is a family business it may have been started by the Ryan’s Father, or both his parents, or even Grandfather and possibly sometimes going back further than this. At a certain point, Ryan may have started working in the family business and depending on how old he is, may have worked his way up. As part of that, it is quite likely he will have obtained shares in the business. These might have been provided to him as part of his income as he worked in the business or, on some occasions, gifted to him by his parents, or grandparents, or acquired from inheritance on, say, his Grandfather’s death.

When Ryan is planning to marry his family, let us say in this instance, it is his Mother and Father who are involved now in the business, can become very concerned about the impact on the business if his marriage does not work out and his Wife wants a part of his shareholding. Whether or not shares can, in any event, be transferred will depend on the Shareholders Agreement. There is often provision setting out the process for disposal of shares and that they have to be offered to the other shareholders first. Some Shareholders Agreements provide for shares to be transferred to a spouse and, strictly, this only applies prior to Decree Absolute on divorce. In itself, this is a complex area.

The temptation in this situation is for the family to prompt Ryan, often quite firmly, to seek a Pre-Nuptial Agreement that Megan has no claim or interest in his interest in the family business. On the face of it, it sounds quite straightforward.

However, what will happen when Megan seeks independent advice (as she is expected to do before signing a Pre-Nuptial Agreement) it will be explained to her that if Ryan works in the family business his income, and his shareholding (which will provide dividend income) may be all that he has. The couple may also buy a house, but apart from that, a significant amount of Ryan’s assets will be in the business. In signing a Pre-Nuptial Agreement saying Megan will not make any claims against it, she could leave herself in a position where there is very little to claim against. This will be particularly relevant if the business owned the house that the couple are to live in.

As all of this unfolds in the context of seeking a Pre-Nuptial Agreement it can be quite upsetting for all of those concerned in the run up to their wedding.

I would suggest that if, as in this example a husband-to-be is considering a Pre-Nuptial Agreement that he has initial advice at a very early stage before he moves into a position of suggesting what that Pre-Nuptial Agreement will look like. The details of it can then be explored and the final proposal put forward in a Pre-Nuptial Agreement to the Wife-to-be can be far less likely to cause upset.

CONTACT MARILYN

If you would like more information or advice relating to this article or a Family law matter, please do not hesitate to contact Marilyn Bell on 01727 798009. 
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Private Children law - Returning to Court

Family solicitor Jennifer Ball explains the reasons for children cases returning to court

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
The role of financial advisers in financial disclosure

Financial disclosure can prove a lengthy and complex part of divorce proceedings and, says Marilyn Bell, Head of family law at SA Law, the input of a…

Read More
Legal 500 2017 Top tier logo
Photo of many books
Views & Insight
Top tier Family team leads SA Law’s celebration of successful 2017 legal directory results

SA Law's Family team has been ranked as a top tier leading law firm in the latest edition of the Legal 500’s UK legal sector research, reinforcing the…

Read More
SA Law’s Family Team is extremely professional, very thorough and pragmatic.
The Legal 500
Reluctant Divorcee image SA Law
Views & Insight
Introducing The Reluctant Divorcee

SA Law's Family Team present an honest account of the realities faced at every stage of the divorce process.

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Join our team puzzle piece
Views & Insight
SA Law celebrates 13th birthday with the promotion of four members of staff

SA Law congratulates four members of staff who have recently been promoted.

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
English Divorce for Foreign Nationals

Family Solicitor, Julie Cohen discusses the processes that Foreign Nationals have to undertake in order to get divorced in the UK, in English and Russian.

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Freezing Injunctions

Family Solicitor, Julie Cohen explains what freezing injunctions are and what they can mean for the divorce process.

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Scrapping inheritance tax won't make divorce easier

Head of family law at SA Law, Marilyn Bell, writes in Spear's magazine about Resolution Foundation's aim to scrap inheritance tax and it's effect on divorce.

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
EU data is slowing the divorce process

Head of family law at SA Law, Marilyn Bell examines how the GDPR could potentially add more complications to the divorce process

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Where are we with pre-nuptial agreements?

Head of family law, Marilyn Bell examines where the English Court is with pre-nuptial agreements and what the future looks like.

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Welcome to Julie Cohen

SA Law welcomes Julie Cohen, an experienced family law solicitor.

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Leave to Remove a Child – Why it matters and the importance of getting the right advice

Ruth Abrams explains the importance of getting the right advice when it comes to Leave to Remove a Child.

Read More
Photo of a red arrow
Views & Insight
Keeping a business going when relationships break down

Head of family law and head of Corporate and commercial join forces to write for SME about mitigating the risks of setting up a family business.

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Preventing a hostile divorce: Six unfortunate family business considerations

Chris Wilks and Marilyn Bell detail 6 things to consider if your relationship breaks down and you have a family business in Real Business magazine.

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Marilyn Bell comments in The Times: Russell Crowe has the right idea with his divorce auction

Russell Crowe is auctioning off memorabilia from his movies and some of his personal items. What an excellent idea, comments Head of Family Law Marilyn…

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Settling the bill

Head of family law, Marilyn Bell discusses how a bill making its way through parliament could have a big impact on how matrimonial finances are addressed…

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
The impact upon separating couples and school admissions

Family law associate Deepa Patel explains why school admissions can add extra stress for separated parents and gives advice on what to do...

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Do you want an online divorce?

Partner and head of the family law team Marilyn Bell examines the pros and cons of online divorces

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
No fault divorce...where are we?

Will there ever be a no-fault divorce? Family lawyer Jen Ball examines

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Cohabitation: What are your rights?

Family lawyer Jen Ball explains what the rights of cohabitees are in this easy read.

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Remember, remember the 5th November

Christine Caffrey explains the importance of sharing parental responsibility when it comes to serious issues.

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Sharing the Care of the Children

When couples separate one of the most important arrangements they will have to sort out is how they are going to care for their children going forward.

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Child maintenance avoidance

Family Associate Deepa Patel explains the Government's plans to ensure paying parents can't avoid paying child maintenance.

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Brexit and the issues facing separating couples

Solicitor Jen Ball explains a family lawyer's point of view on the consequences of Brexit.

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Matrimonial Conveyancing: Who should sell the house?

Marilyn Bell debates what the options are if divorce proceedings result in the family home having to be sold - which solicitor is going to act on the…

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Hedge Fund Manager Denies Being Married

Husband attempts to convince the court that marriage was a sham in order to protect his £1.1 billion fortune.

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Unequal division of assets after 23 year marriage for Hart v Hart divorce

The Court of Appeal made a surprising decision in dismissing Mrs Hart's appeal against a judgment that left her with less than half of the matrimonial…

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Universal credit and it's impact on separating couples

Head of family law Marilyn Bell examines the key changes to the current tax credit system

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Naming and shaming in divorce

In an effort to update the antiquated Divorce Petition in a bid to make it more user-friendly, it appears that concerns have been sparked that the new…

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Keeping things amicable with your ex – is it really possible to remain friends?

Parents are encouraged to work together to agree arrangements that best meet the needs of their children and that are going to work in practice for their…

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Is good news on the horizon for Mrs Owens?

Mrs Owens hits the headlines following the refusal by the court to allow her to divorce her husband of 39 years.

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Surrogacy, Parental Orders & Parental Responsibility – ensuring your legal status as parent

When looking to alternative options to have children such as IVF, surrogacy or adoption it is important to understand your legal position as it may not…

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Is jail a possibility for not providing financial disclosure?

Associate at SA Law Deepa Patel explains the dangers of not providing financial disclosure.

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Life as a trainee in family law

Trainee solicitor Pooja Dasgupta explains what it is like to be a trainee in SA Law's family department

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Litigants in Person: Things to be mindful of

Head of Family Law, Marilyn Bell explains the difficulties for both solicitors and clients that can arise when working with Litigants in Person.

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
What happens to Orders for children if one parent moves to another country?

Marilyn Bell explains what happens to Orders for children if one parent moves to another country.

Read More
Immigration banner suitcases
Views & Insight
Thinking of relocating?

Guidance on relocating in search of a 'fresh start' following divorce.

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Understanding child maintenance obligations

Family lawyer Christine Caffrey explains the issues of unpaid child maintenance arrears which has left many single parents struggling financially.

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Universal Tax Credit

The Universal Tax Credit, is a welfare benefit that was introduced in the United Kingdom in 2013 to replace many existing benefits and tax credits.

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Is the absence of roses and chocolate on Valentine’s Day grounds for divorce?

Is the absence of roses and chocolate on Valentine’s Day grounds for divorce?

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Life after Divorce Maintenance

For some time there has been a settled principle that after a divorce, the higher-earning spouse would have to pay the lower earner maintenance for life.…

Read More
Wills trusts and probate banner red leaves
Views & Insight
Supreme Court finds in favour of cohabitee’s right to survivor’s pension

Marilyn Bell and Catherine Robson consider what the recent case where the Supreme Court found in favour of cohabitee's right to survivor's pension means…

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Post-Brexit Divorce

Associate Kiran Beeharry examines how the UK government might implement important legal procedures regarding cross-border disputes relating to divorce…

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Why does divorce have to be so complicated?

Marilyn Bell explores common problems faced when dealing with complex finance issues during a divorce

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Doing your homework on school applications

Family law Associate Kiran Beeharry gives advice for separated parents undertaking school applications.

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Will husbands who fail to pay wives maintenance have their passports taken away?

This is a recommendation being made by the Law Commission to the Justice Secretary Liz Truss.

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
What do you want for Christmas?

If you are experiencing divorce or a relationship breakdown an important choice for you to make is whether you want conflict or constructive solutions…

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Separating From Your Partner and Europe

As the summer draws to a close we can now look back on the result of June’s referendum and how it will effect UK family law.

Read More
Residential Property house image
Views & Insight
Severing joint tenancies – don’t get caught out

There are two ways to hold property in the UK, as Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common. Whilst the legal title must always be held as Joint Tenants, the…

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
The key to a peaceful Christmas – Top Tips

The festive season brings a difficult set of challenges for separated parents to face. Marilyn Bell shares her tips for preparing for a peaceful Christmas.…

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair
Views & Insight
Never underestimate the importance of the ‘Status Quo’

When relationships break down, amidst the hurt (and often anger) it is very easy to take immediate action based on an emotional response to the situation.…

Read More
Views & Insight
Holidaying abroad or considering a permanent move?

The sun is shining and many of us are looking forward to the summer holidays. Whether you are dreaming of palm trees and white sands or have your heart…

Read More
Views & Insight
What if my former partner decides to represent themselves?

There are lots of resources online about, or for, someone representing themselves in legal proceedings when it comes to divorce or separation. But knowing…

Read More
Views & Insight
Contract terms and bad bargains – goodbye to commercial common sense?

Two recent Supreme Court decisions have shown a marked shift away from the Court stepping in to achieve a result that reflects commercial common sense.The…

Read More
Views & Insight
Coercive Control & Family Proceedings

For many years where issues of domestic violence arose between couples the police were often reluctant to act unless there was clear evidence of an assault.…

Read More
Views & Insight
Why do wives issue divorce proceedings?

Although the divorce rate is falling, statistics show that more wives than husbands issue divorce proceedings.Lots of reasons are put forward for this.…

Read More
Views & Insight
Divorce through the ages

Does it make a difference how old you and your spouse are when you get divorced? The answer is likely to be yes.Getting divorced in your twentiesIf you…

Read More
Photo of an old red telephone on a desk
Clients say SA Law’s Family Team exudes knowledge and confidence.
Chambers & Partners

© SA LAW 2018

Every care is taken in the preparation of our articles. However, no responsibility can be accepted to any person who acts on the basis of information contained in them alone. You are recommended to obtain specific advice in respect of individual cases.