Views on pre-nuptial agreements

This project will explore public attitudes to the proposed introduction of binding pre-nuptial agreements. This change is currently under consideration by the Law Commission and this research will feed into the Parliamentary debates surrounding reform. 

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?
Project details



Professor Anne Barlow, School of Law, University of Exeter

Funding programme:

Children and families

Grant amount and duration:


April 2010 - February 2013



Barlow A and Smithson J (2012) Is modern marriage a bargain? Exploring perceptions of pre-nuptial agreements in England and Wales. Child and Family Law Quarterly, 24 (3), 304-319 (subscription required)