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In a recent survey conducted in the United States, divorce lawyers reported an increase in pre-nuptial agreements during the last five years. This is not particularly surprising given that people are getting married, or remarrying, later in life and therefore have substantial assets they wish to protect in the event of the marriage ending.
Such agreements are not currently legally binding in England and Wales, though they are now given some weight by the courts, particularly in the case of short, childless marriages.
Many family lawyers are urging greater clarity in relation to the status of pre- nuptial agreements and the outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision, in the potentially landmark case of Radmacher v Granatino, is eagerly awaited.
The case involves a German pre-nuptial agreement signed by one of Germany’s richest women, Katrina Radmacher and her French husband. The parties married in London in 1988 having executed a pre-nuptial agreement in August 1998. They had two children and lived life in England and New York. The parties separated in October 2006 and the husband went to court to try to avoid being held to the terms of the pre-nuptial agreement which stated he would not receive a share of his wife’s wealth on divorce.
In the first instance, the High Court stated that the pre-nuptial agreement could not be enforced contractually and that the agreement was just one of the factors to be taken into account. The Wife appealed and the Court of Appeal found the agreement was decisive. The husband appealed and the Supreme Court started hearing the case in March 2010. The outcome is awaited.
For further information and advice on this issue, and other family law issues, please contact us for a free initial consultation on 01992 306 616 or 0207 956 2740 or email us.Back to Law Articles