Leap year proposals are a British tradition dating back hundreds of years which enable women, who are tired of waiting for their men to propose, to get down on one knee and take matters into their own hands.

The tradition might be a little outdated with women becoming increasingly confident about being the ones to pop the question, but when 29 February comes along, there are still a significant number of women poised to make leap year proposals.

I know it’s a bit of a passion-killer on this most romantic of days, but a very serious and practical consideration for those making marriage proposals at any time of year should be a pre-nuptial agreement.

When planning their proposal most people are preoccupied with thoughts of the perfect wedding day and the dreams that you and your partner share for the future.

However, as you embark on a lifetime of wedded bliss, you shouldn’t forget that marriage is a legally binding contract, following which all assets brought into the partnership are generally considered joint assets or liabilities.

So, if you own a business, a property portfolio or have inherited family wealth, these will likely be shared with your new husband or wife once you get married.

That might not initially seem to be a problem, but if the unexpected happens and the relationship breaks down, you risk losing half of all assets that you bring into the marriage.

Rather than being viewed as unromantic or an indication of a lack of confidence in your relationship, a pre-nuptial agreement should be considered an insurance policy to safeguard family or business assets. Hopefully you’ll never need to use it, but having it there provides peace of mind that your business interests or wealth acquired before marriage are protected from potentially damaging divorce proceedings.

When broached sensitively, most partners will understand the need to protect certain assets from unnecessary risk.

While pre-nuptial agreements are not legally binding in England, judges are giving increasing weight to what has been agreed and frequently uphold them, providing they have been properly drawn up by a qualified solicitor and both parties have been independently advised.

The agreement must be entered into freely with both you and your partner fully disclosing your assets. It also has to be fair and realistic and might need to be reviewed during the course of your marriage, especially if there is a significant change in circumstances.

The cost of drawing up a pre-nuptial agreement depends on the complexity of your financial arrangements and the negotiations, but it is a good investment providing peace of mind that your assets are protected and protracted financial proceedings can potentially be avoided.

By all means allow yourself to be swept up in the excitement of your leap year proposal, but don’t let romance cloud your decision-making when it comes to protecting your assets.

If you would like advice on pre-nuptial agreements or any other family law-related matter, please contact our Stoke-on-Trent family solicitors on 01782 205000, our Altrincham family solicitors on 0161 929 8494 or email enquiry@beswicks.com.