As one of the leading Divorce practices in the Harrow, Ealing and Ruislip area, we have experienced a significant increase of interest in prenuptial agreements over the past few years.
Prenuptial agreements or prenups, as they are colloquially known, are contracts entered into by prospective spouses prior to a marriage. They commonly include provisions for the division of property and spousal support in the event of a divorce or termination of a marriage. They are often drawn up when one of the parties going into a marriage is significantly wealthier than the other party and wishes to protect some of their wealth in the event of a divorce.
Prenuptial agreements were previously relatively unheard of in the UK. However, the past decade has seen coverage of several high-profile divorces from other jurisdictions, in which the existence of prenuptial agreements and their particularities have generated a significant amount of discussion. As a result, the UK has seen an increase in awareness and popularity of prenups. Contrary to popular belief, however, prenuptial agreements are not seen as legally binding agreements in the English Legal system.
As discussed in our previous guide to Family Law in England and Wales, when dividing assets upon divorce, the courts are given wide discretionary powers as to the division of matrimonial assets. They take into account a variety of factors, for instance:
This is to ensure that the financial settlement is as fair as possible.
Recent cases have shown a change in the Court’s attitude towards the significance of prenups. In the well reported case of Radmacher v Granatino, (a 2010 case in the UK Supreme Court) , it was ruled that as long as a prenuptial agreement was “fair”, the courts should give effect to the terms of financial settlement stipulated in the prenup as far as possible. This effectively means that under the current status of the law, the Courts will look to give effect to a prenuptial agreement as long as it is fair and both parties willingly entered into the agreement with a full understanding of its implications. The Court still retains the power to completely ignore the prenup if they do not see it as “fair”.
If you are interested in drawing up a pre-nuptial agreement or finding out more about the other services we offer relating to the breakdown of a marriage or relationship, click here.