Prenuptial Agreements have been recognised for the first time as enforceable in the United Kingdom following the Court ruling in the case of Katrin Radmacher. Her husband Nicolas Granatino went to the Supreme Court after the Appeal Court cut his divorce settlement from more than 5 million to 1 million pounds. The Supreme Court dismissed the Appeal and upheld the Prenuptial Agreement the parties had entered into.
Prior to the decision in the Radmacher case, Prenuptial Agreements at best were simply a factor to be considered by the Court upon determining the property and financial arrangements in a divorce. The English Courts’ refusal to recognise a Prenuptial Agreement for more than 150 years was based on the principle that marriage is for life and couples have a duty to stay together. To plan for a future breakdown of the relationship was considered contrary to this principle of public policy.
The Law Commission is currently reviewing Prenuptial Agreements and its findings are not expected until 2012 but in the meantime the Supreme Court Ruling that Prenuptials should have ‘decisive weight’ effectively legalises Prenuptial Agreements. It would appear that only manifestly unfair contracts will be overturned by the Court. That is to say the Courts will still have the discretion to waive any Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement if, for example the contract is made under duress or if it fails to make adequate provision for the children of the relationship
So what does a Prenuptial Agreement do? Does it mean that you take nothing on trust or does it give you peace of mind?
We like to think that it is all about life planning and management. When used appropriately and drafted properly, it can ease the strain of a breakup and prepare each spouse for their respective future lives. It can provide certainty in uncertain times.
A Prenuptial Agreement is not just for the wealthy. It will undoubtedly be attractive to wealthy people marrying poorer partners but it also has a place for people who have been through a divorce before and who want to protect their property and pensions perhaps for the benefit of their children from an earlier relationship. A Prenuptial will be invaluable to couples who simply want peace of mind with a view to avoiding the complications and expense of a marriage breakdown.
Whether you are contemplating living together, getting married, or you are already happily married please contact our Family Team for further advice with regard to your life planning options. We shall be happy to assist and offer our expertise in relation to the preparation of Prenuptial, Postnuptial, Living Together (Cohabitation) Agreements or simply a review of your relevant options.