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Pre Nuptial Agreements

Pre nuptial Agreements are agreements made by a couple before their intended marriage. They are not documents which will either be enforced or uphold as a legal document by the courts in the United Kingdom.

They are recognised as binding in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and most of Europe.

We expect an increase in enquiries in respect of Pre nuptial Agreements following recent “big money” cases which have awarded wives a large percentage share of the parties’ assets or future income.

More recently, the divorce of the Arsenal football player Ray Parlour provided his former wife Karen with over one-third of his future earnings.

High net worth clients may feel that it is a prudent option to record the parties’ financial intentions prior to marriage and the division of this in the unlikely event of a marriage breakdown. This does not have to be encouraging fate before a marriage has even begun, but considered as an insurance policy.

What weight a court would put on this type of agreement would very much depend on the facts of a marriage breakdown and the circumstances in which the Pre-nuptial Agreement was recorded, i.e.

  • the wealth and earning capacity of one or both parties,
  • the contribution made by either party to the marriage wealth
  • the planned or unplanned provision for children and their maintenance
  • whether they had full knowledge of the other party’s assets and
  • whether the parties had independent legal advice

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