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Power of the Pre-nup

Rachel Baul, a specialist in agricultural divorces for over 25 years looks at the complexities involved and how all parties can best reach an amicable solution when a marriage breaks down.

Over thirteen years ago the Supreme Court backed Karin Radmacher’s argument that her prenuptial agreement should be upheld and made history. Prior to the case, prenuptial agreements were given little importance when final rulings were made in financial settlements following breakdown of marriage.

A recent case has further confirmed the position in Radmacher v Granatino, that prenuptial agreements should be validated in financial settlement following divorce.

The prenuptial agreement in the recent case was prepared in 2005, when the husband was worth £32.5 million. There were multiple terms to the agreement in the case of a break-up, including that each party would retain the properties they had acquired prior to their-marriage; that the wife would receive £500,000 for each complete year of marriage up to a maximum of £12.5million and that she would receive half of the London properties on the eighth anniversary or the birth of children, depending on which came first.

It was noted within the proceedings that even at the time the agreement was drafted, issues had arisen, and although the exact terminology is denied by the husband, the term ‘gold digger’ had been referenced due to the wife’s initial proposed agreement. However even after these minor hiccups, the parties did reach an agreement.

The couple separated in 2019, and the wife argued that the prenup terms were insufficient and that she had been unduly influenced to agree to it. The Judge, however, found in favour of the husband and concluded that the prenuptial agreement should be upheld as agreed.

The main factors within the latest judgement, which allowed the prenuptial agreement to stand, was that both parties prior to making the agreement had 1) received independent and separate legal advice, and 2) that they had freely entered into the agreement which they intended to be ‘legally binding upon them’.

The overall judgement also focused on the position that, if the needs of the party are met by following the agreement, then it should be upheld if also entered freely and with sufficient independent legal advice.

For information about pre-nuptial agreements or the consequences of relationship breakdown, speak to Family Law specialist Rachel Spencer Robb – 01943 601020 or rspencerrobb@lcf.co.uk.

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