Pre-nups – are they worth the paper they’re written on?

25th July 2018

Pre-nups – are they worth the paper they’re written on?

It was once the case that pre-nuptial agreements were the preserve of the rich and famous – but these days, they’re an increasingly common choice for couples preparing to tie the knot.

Although in English law they’re not legally binding, pre-nups are still influential documents that can have a significant impact on a divorce settlement.

The point was illustrated in a recent court case, in which a wife sought – unsuccessfully – to have a pre-nup dismissed.

The couple began living together in 2004 after both had previously been married and divorced. When their first child arrived, the wife encouraged her partner to wed her – something he was reluctant to do having endured a bruising separation from his first wife.

He eventually agreed on the proviso they entered into a pre-nuptial agreement, which restricted her rights on divorce to terms far lower than those she would get from an equal rights settlement.

The husband was by far the wealthier of the two, having set up a successful travel business, which he hoped to pass on to his children from his first marriage.

The marriage went ahead but broke down five years later, at which point the wife sought to have the pre-nup thrown out on the grounds that she had been put under undue pressure to sign it – an argument dismissed by the judge, who said the wife had signed the agreement of her own free will.

However, the court did agree that the terms of the pre-nup, which limited her to a lump sum of £600,000 and then £2,000 a month, were unfair and did not meet her needs. The judge increased the lump sum to £1.35m and increased the annual payments from £24,000 a year to £100,000 a year, falling to £75,000 a year when the couple’s child turned 21.

While the original terms of the pre-nup were amended, its existence protected the bulk of the husband’s wealth. Without such an agreement, he could have faced the prospect of losing 50% of his assets.

While this case involved eye-watering sums of money, the principles apply to those involving more modest assets.

How can Gotelee help?

While pre-nups may not be the most romantic means of preparing for married life, they can be an effective tool in planning for the worst.

This is particularly the case for those who have been married before and would like to ring-fence family wealth, have children from previous relationships or have significant assets.
But this is a complex legal area where specialist advice is essential to make sure the document is effective and water-tight. Gotelee has a wealth of experience in working with couples to draw up agreements that work for both parties.

To find out how we can help you, visit us at one of our offices in Ipswich, Felixstowe, Hadleigh or Woodbridge, or call 01473 298101.

Partner
Practice Areas
Children
Divorce
Separation
Serious Big Dealio Partner Fo Life
Chartered Legal Executive and Associate
Head of Marketing and Business Development
Chartered Legal Executive, Associate
Blog Posts

Unfair dismissal and permanent health insurance (PHI)

22/05/2019

Permanent health insurance (PHI) provides employees with pay during long term sickness or incapacity.…

Read More
Upcoming Events

Future Post Scheduled

24/04/2020

Test event for the future

Read More

Testimonials

"“ This is the second time we have used Tracey for the conveyancing to buy our new home. She is always completely approachable, she has helped us along the way with advice and useful tips that has helped lessen the stress. We have complete confidence in her and would not hesitate to recommend her to our friends and family”.  - Peter Dawes, Cater Dawes Financial Planning "

-

"Domini was very fast and efficient in carrying out her work for me - she was also very good at explaining things to me"

-

"The ease that we could access and speak to Pat Smith - Thank you"

-

"We were very pleased to have Jade as our solicitor, the service was excellent and we felt kept in the loop which minimised stress"

- CT

"We found Rachel Dawson outstanding, polite, professional and caring."

-

"Approachable, very efficient, always willing to take my calls and update me."

- SH

"Prompt, helpful, polite and very professional service"

-

"I don't think this house sale would have pulled together without Jo's determination and expertise. Excellent!"

- MT

"I have used Tracey Laflin at Gotelee on a number of occasions and in my opinion, she is simply the most efficient conveyancing solicitor I have ever worked with. From the outset, she took the time to understand my specific business requirements and to date, she has exceeded all of my expectations."

- Dale Fiddy - Portobello Developments Ltd

"I would like to say thank you for your help, support and guidance over the last two and a half years. Obviously should I need further assistance in the future I shall not hesitate to call you guys."

-

Please select preferred method of contact

* We will only contact you by telephone if you select this as primary form of contact. All web enquiries will be stored on our website for 30 days.