The rise of ‘social media pre-nups’ – Are they legal in the UK?

There has been an emerging trend growing in America over the last few years, the rise of the ‘social media pre-nup’, and interestingly these contracts are gaining popularity in the UK.

You might be wondering, what is a ‘social media pre-nup’? Well, in this digital engrossed age, the ‘share everything’ culture has become second nature to many. Over sharing on social media is not uncommon, many couples now play out their relationships in the public sphere. It’s no surprise then that the social media pre-nup is being used to set out clear parameters for how and where material relating to a relationship can be shared.

In 2011, a third of US divorce proceeding contained the word ‘Facebook’, a statistic that undoubtedly helped the rise of these type of prenuptial agreements in the states. The mantra ‘think before your tweet’ has never been so true, with the financial penalty for violating this legal arrangement in the US reaching $50,000.

So what does this mean for the UK?

Prenuptial agreements are not legally binding in the UK, although earlier this year the Law Commission found that they should be considered in divorce settlements after the needs of the couple and their children have been accounted for. A Government response to this is due to be published later this year.

In the meantime, the courts do appear willing to give weight to these carefully drafted agreements, if they meet the required conditions and certain procedures are followed. Test cases in Britain have recognised pre-nups since 2010, when a Judge ruled in favour of German heiress Katrin Radmacher, who sought to protect her £106m fortune.

Although the American style social media pre-nups may not be enforceable, it is always worth establishing some digital ground rules. We live in a world where information can be shared more easily and readily than before, so although it may not be the most romantic topic, talking about your privacy online could be beneficial.

It will be interesting to see what the Government’s response to prenuptial agreements will be later this month, which will undeniably alter the landscape of pre-nups and subsequent divorce settlements.

For more information on Prenuptial Agreements, speak to one of our Family Law Solicitors on 0151 264 7363