Pre-Nuptial Agreements must be signed before marriage.
However, it is possible to enter into a Post-Nuptial Agreement which can be signed at any point after people are married.
As pre and post Nuptial Agreements are not technically legally binding, there is a set of criteria that needs be followed to make sure that it is as persuadable as possible to a Court who will have the final say.
Sometimes lawyers are consulted too close to the wedding for a Pre-Nuptial Agreement to be safely completed without the potential for one party to suggest the other party pressurised them into signing. For example, it would be inappropriate for a Bride to sign the agreement in her wedding dress moments before the wedding fearful that if she does not, the wedding would be cancelled with all the upset that would cause.
Post-Nuptial Agreements are quite often used either instead of or as well as a Pre-Nuptial Agreement in order for both parties to be of equal standing and equal bargaining power. It would be in the same terms of the Pre -Nuptial Agreement but there will be no time pressures.
It is also possible for an Agreement to be signed in situations where the parties wish to remain married but something has occurred which makes them try to regulate and have an element of control over what would happen over in the event of a later separation. Circumstances could include one party having a large debt in the other parties name and re-arranging their marital finances to pay their debt off but wanting that to be recognised if they separated later on.
People mention situations where one party has been unfaithful and they wish to decide how the assets will be divided if they separated as a result of that later on. In certain circumstances, where the terms are entirely fair but the parties just wish to know where they stand, this type of Agreement might be attractive.
In other circumstances, where one party might wish to try and pressure the other party by asking them to decide between unfavorable terms or leaving, there is of course the potential for the Agreement to be challenged later on. This scenario is called the principle of “undue influence” and the Family Court would be unlikely to hold such an Agreement as their starting point as one of fairness.