While pre-nuptial agreements are not automatically binding under English law, several recent divorce cases have made it clear that the courts are increasingly taking account of pre-nups in their decision making process.
The most high profile of these divorce cases, and the one which has given the clearest indication yet that pre-nups will be recognised as enforceable, is the Radmacher case.
In this case, German paper industry heiress Karin Radmacher won the right to protect her fortune, and hundreds of millions of pounds controlled by her family, out of the hands of her former husband after the Supreme Court ruled that the pre nuptial agreement was binding.
The judges agreed that in the right case a prenuptial agreement could have decisive or compelling weight. Lord Phillips, the president of the Supreme Court, said the courts would still have the discretion to waive any pre- or postnuptial agreement, especially when it was unfair to any children of the marriage.
So, while it’s probably not the most romantic way to start a new relationship, it may be wise for someone in your position, whose earnings and assets are likely to be significantly higher than your partner’s, to consult specialist legal advice before you get married.
Hopefully it would be a conversation that would become irrelevant with a long and happy marriage, but if you’re determined to protect your wealth in the event of a separation and divorce, a pre-nuptial agreement may well be a wise move.
For more advice on pre-nuptial agreements, or any other divorce or family issues, contact Shena Baron on 01772 258321.