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Do prenuptial agreements hold up in court?

Published on

June 22, 2023

Brown wooden gavel

With prenuptial agreements becoming more and more popular, Kaleb Nye, winner of the Amphlett Lissimore Family Law prize, reviews a recent case where the applicant refused the terms of their prenuptial agreement and went to court.

In a recent court case, a judge ruled on a divorce settlement involving a prenuptial agreement. The couple got married in 2005 with the husband having net assets of £32.5 million, including a valuable London property. Before the marriage, the husband insisted on a prenuptial agreement, which was signed by both parties.

According to the agreement, the wife would receive £500,000 for each year of the marriage, up to a maximum of £12.5 million after 25 years. She would also be entitled to half the London property after eight years or when they had children. Alternatively, she could receive half the increase in net assets during the marriage, capped at 42% of the husband’s worth. Child maintenance was set at £60,000 per year per child, plus school fees and medical expenses.

The marriage broke down in 2019, and the wife filed for divorce in October of that year. The husband made several settlement offers, but the wife rejected them. The husband then argued that the divorce settlement should adhere to the terms of the prenuptial agreement. The wife claimed that the agreement was invalid and unfair.

The judge largely rejected the wife’s arguments. The court stated that it was not undue pressure for the husband to insist on a prenuptial agreement as a condition for marriage. The judge also found that the agreement was not vitiated by a dispute they had before signing it. The wife’s demand to retain the London property was deemed unfair, and the judge ruled that the financial remedy provided under the prenuptial agreement was sufficient for her to find a suitable alternative.

However, the judge ruled against the husband reoccupying the London property, as it would negatively affect the children. He ordered the property to be sold. The judge emphasised the importance of prenuptial agreements, stating that they should be taken seriously and that seeking top legal advice before signing one, is crucial.

Overall, the court upheld the prenuptial agreement and determined the financial settlement accordingly, with some modifications related to the London property. Justice Moor’s judgement in this case is the latest authority which supports valid prenuptial agreements being upheld in England and Wales. This case highlights the many benefits of prenuptial agreements which can now more effectively protect assets whilst satisfying the needs of both parties.

With the currently high divorce rate, it is not surprising that prenups are becoming much more common with the goal of avoiding costly legal battles later down the line. While the question of fairness still has wide parameters, prenups can provide valuable foundations for more conservative outcomes. Overall, this judgement clarifies that prenups hold significant weight and can be the anchor that leads to fair resolution for parties and children in the divorce courts.

Learn more about Prenuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement (PNA) is a contract made between a couple in advance of their marriage. The contract explains who owns what and what will happen with anything which is acquired during the marriage. If the marriage ends the PNA will set out what is to happen.
Our family solicitors and lawyers can help you negotiate and agree upon a pre or post nuptial agreement with your partner. Our family law specialists are based across South London in our Crystal Palace, Bromley, and West Wickham offices. Telephone and video appointments are also available.

About the Author

Kaleb Nye won this year’s Amphlett Lissimore Family Law prize and as part of the prize, he spent two days with our experienced Family Law team. Kaleb attends the University of Roehampton, where he also volunteers at the Roehampton Law School Clinic and is an active member of the Roehampton Law Society.

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