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Social Sciences

Views on pre-nuptial agreements

19 April 2010 - 1 February 2013

PI/s in Exeter: Professor Anne Barlow (FAcSS)

Funding awarded: £ 104,000

Sponsor(s): Nuffield Foundation

About the research

Anne Barlow and colleague Janet Smithson were awarded £104,000 by the Nuffield Foundation to 'Explore Perceptions of Pre-Nuptial Agreements' and considered public attitudes and psychological considerations of the possible introduction of binding pre-nuptial agreements in English Family Law, which was under consideration by the Law Commission.

Binding pre-nuptial agreements would give married couples the power to privately agree the arrangements which would prevail on divorce, enhancing their autonomy. However the economically weaker spouse (typically the partner who gives up work to care for children) would lose the financial protection currently provided by the law.

Questions considered include:

Is greater private ordering in the form of pre-marital agreements (pre-nups) now seen overall as beneficial by the public?

How do attitudes to perceived advantages and disadvantages to pre-nups vary across the population?

Would introducing pre-nups affect the way marriage is valued within society?