Where are we with Pre-Nuptial Agreements?

In the recent case of Camilla and Gerard Versteegh the Appeal Court declined to increase her £90 million divorce package.

One of the main issues was the couple had signed a pre-marital agreement in Sweden where such agreements are usual.

In this case the wife sought not to be bound by the agreement and wanted the English court to approach her settlement on the basis of the more usual starting point in England of 50:50 share of the assets.

Although the court did not hold the wife to the Pre-Nuptial Agreement it was a significant factor in the decision on the divorce settlement.

An important point arising from this case was whether or not the wife was fully aware of the meaning and effect of the Pre-Nuptial Agreement. The court considered that she was fully aware of it even though, in her case, she had signed it only the day before her wedding and had not had legal advice. Part of the reasoning was that she was from Sweden where these agreements are quite usual. The terms of it had in addition been referred to over the years by the wife.

It is of note that although the court did not hold wife to the Pre-Nuptial Agreement it did not then disregard it altogether.

It does therefore appear that the court are regularly taking Pre-Nuptial Agreements into account in divorce proceedings.

The present position in English law is that neither party can be held contractually to the terms of a Pre-Nuptial Agreement because it is not binding. It is however given weight when the court make a decision. Where a couple are clear they do not want their assets to start from a basis of equal sharing it is worth having a Pre-Nuptial Agreement.

Post-Nuptial Agreements

These are often thought of as an agreement that is made after a wedding perhaps there has been insufficient time before the wedding itself for it to be done. However, a Post-Nuptial Agreement can also be entered in to by a couple who wish to attempt reconciliation after a period apart or even where finances have been a significant issue in the relationship. At the moment it would not be binding at the time of divorce but would be strong evidence of their intentions.

CONTACT MARILYN

If you would like more information or advice relating to this article or a Family law matter, please do not hesitate to contact Marilyn Bell on 01727 798066 or 07725 372256. 

Read our latest Divorce & Family Law Views and Insights
Divorce and family law red chair SA Law
Views & Insights
Surrogacy: The courts flexible approach to the granting of Parental Orders

Two cases that show the courts continue to interpret the Section 54 criteria in a very broad and flexible manner and will, where possible, find a way…

Read More
They are a firm that does the right thing for the right reasons rather than simply to generate income.
Chambers and Partners
SA LawFamily law image, suportive leagl advice
Views & Insights
Mental health and addiction in divorce and family breakdown

Marilyn Bell shares her experience of helping vulnerable clients through divorce and family breakdown when there are mental health considerations such…

Read More
SA Law Calculator Business Accounts & Finance
Views & Insights
"My Career Took a Backseat During Marriage – Can I Be Compensated?"

Compensation claim for relationship-generated disadvantage

Read More
Reluctant Divorcee image SA Law
Views & Insights
The Reopening of Schools during the pandemic and the impact of this on Child Arrangements

Simran Gupta talks about plans for certain school for pupils to return to school and the issues for families in the context of family law.

Read More
Divorce and family law red chair SA Law
Views & Insights
Matrimonial Finances and Covid-19 Legal Q&A

Marilyn Bell answers your most important Covid-19 related divorce and finances related questions.

Read More
SA LawFamily law image, suportive leagl advice
Views & Insights
Coronavirus divorce rate: Staying optimistic

Divorce rates soared in China post-quarantine and some sources are predicting a surge in UK-based enquiries – Kiran Beeharry adds a refreshing view to…

Read More
A very good and successful team who are approachable and a pleasure to deal with.
Legal 500

© SA LAW 2020

Every care is taken in the preparation of our articles. However, no responsibility can be accepted to any person who acts on the basis of information contained in them alone. You are recommended to obtain specific advice in respect of individual cases.