Specialist family solicitor, Pamela Arrowsmith, says “Whilst UK Courts do not accept prenuptial agreements as legally binding, it was established by the Supreme Court in the 2010 case involving the very wealthy Katrin Radmacher and her husband, that the Court will take such an agreement into consideration.”
In any Financial Remedy case before the Court, the Court will have to consider first all of the needs of the children under 18 years of age. Thereafter the Court considers the unique factors of that particular couple including amongst other things their ages, the length of the marriage, contributions that each have made in money or money’s worth, pensions issues, housing and income needs. As part of this overall exercise, the Court will also look at any properly executed prenuptial deed as one of the relevant factors before reaching a fair decision on the settlement between the husband and wife.
A recent case before the Court was that of Jane Pearson and Stephen Horrey. This was reported by the Daily Mail on 4 April 2016.
After meeting on an internet dating site, their relationship blossomed in 2004 and they married in 2006. Jane Pearson was the wealthier of the couple with her own business.
Jane asked her solicitor if she should draw up a prenuptial agreement before marrying Stephen. She was advised that such a document was not binding so she did not proceed.
When Stephen left Jane without warning after eight years of marriage, he was able to make a financial claim against her assets successfully in the reported sum of £300,000. This was despite the fact that Jane states he never paid anything towards the household bills or the mortgage and had no assets of his own which he brought to the marriage. The only asset he owned on marriage was the equity from his flat and this he ploughed into his online jewellery business rather than into the former matrimonial home.
Jane Pearson says that she feels aggrieved at the order which was made against her. However, this is a case in which it is the wife who is, as the Daily Mail stated, “paying the price of equality”. The Court treats both husband and wife equally when considering how assets are divided.
However, if Jane Pearson had persevered with a prenuptial agreement and provided that:
- Both parties were legally advised;
- Both parties fully disclosed their financial circumstances to each other; and
- The prenuptial agreement was not on the eve of the wedding and in fact was completed at least eight weeks before the wedding;
in those circumstances the Court would have looked at the prenuptial agreement and decided whether to give effect to its terms. It has to be said, in my opinion, that had there been a prenuptial agreement, it is likely that this would have had an impact upon the size of the award to be made to Mr Horrey.
Therefore, anyone contemplating marriage in circumstances where they have the greater financial assets or to protect wealth and assets that they have accumulated so that these can be inherited by their children from a previous relationship, it is always best advice to execute a prenuptial deed, rather than to have no agreement in place at all. If there is no agreement in place at all, the Court will deal with this under the set provisions of Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.
Had Mrs Pearson done so, she may well have decreased the financial award made to her husband. The cost involved in the preparation of a prenuptial deed is a ‘drop in the ocean’ compared to the extensive costs which can be built up in a contested financial application.”
If you wish any legal advice on these issues, please contact Pam Arrowsmith, specialist family lawyer, on 0121 227 3850 for a 30 minute free consultation.