Posted by familylaw on 20th January 2021
Last updated 17th September 2022
What is a pre-civil partnership agreement?

A pre-civil partnership agreement can be seen by some as unromantic, while others see them in a similar vein to critical illness insurance; hopefully unnecessary, but useful to have should the worst happen.

Just under 1,000 civil partnerships came to an end in 2019.  A pre-civil partnership agreement (‘preciv’) would mean you and your partner start out with confidence about your financial wellbeing should your relationship ever change for the worse.

So what is a pre-civil partnership agreement?

A preciv is a formal, written agreement between two partners prior to their civil partnership. It defines ownership of their assets (including money, property and belongings) and explains how the assets will be divided if their partnership breaks down. It isn’t just about financial value. For example, you might have an inheritance, a trust fund or possessions with sentimental value you want to keep in your family, or a business which one of you wants to remain in control of. These issues can be very divisive and expensive in a separation if not agreed in advance.

A post-civil partnership agreement is essentially the same as a pre-civil partnership agreement, but is entered into during the partnership rather than before it.

How to get a pre-civil partnership agreement?

Preciv’s are recognised by the courts in the UK. They are usually upheld if they are fair, entered into free of pressure, with good advice and meet the needs of both parties and the children. Your aim should be to make an agreement setting out how you and your partner would divide things fairly should your partnership come to an end, taking into account likely and foreseeable future changes in circumstances.

It will need to be drafted by a legal professional to make sure that the agreement abides by UK law and stands the test of time. Our specialist family finances team have many years’ experience dealing with prenuptial, pre-civil agreement and post nuptial/civil agreements.

Similarly to a cohabitation agreement, the preciv must be entered into by both parties freely and knowingly – which means you must both understand the agreement fully and agree to it voluntarily. You must both also fully disclose information about your financial situation and assets.

You and your partner will need separate legal advice to help you review the agreement independently, which will help to show that no one acted involuntarily or without understanding the implications.

A preciv must be signed at least 21 days (and ideally longer) before the civil partnership to avoid claims that it was arranged in a rush or by putting one party under pressure. It also means you then have time to put the agreement away in a drawer and concentrate on the fun things like preparation of your big day.

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