For so many years now, the UK Family Law courts had refused to acknowledge pre-nuptials as legally binding simply because they felt it was undermining the institution of marriage. But things changed when in 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that German heiress Katrin Radmacher could keep her fortune worth 100 million pounds after her divorce, in accordance with the terms of her pre-nuptials, recognizing that “the court should give effect to a nuptial agreement that is freely entered into by each party with a full appreciation of its implications unless in the circumstances prevailing it would not be fair to hold the parties to the agreement”.
Family law solicitors at Kidd Spoor Taylor point out that after this landmark judgement, divorcing couples with a pre-nuptial agreement already in place, now assume the court will uphold the same, unless it would be unfair to do so. The old adage of pre-nuptials being contrary to public policy as they talked about the end of a marriage even before getting married is now being swept away.
Legal team across the Uk are eagerly waiting the 27th of the month, when the Law Commission is likely to pass the law making pre-nuptial agreements legally enforceable. This could literally shake up divorce cases across the country. So far, judges have used their own discretion and insight to divide marital assets, taking into account each partner’s role as economic provider and/or child care provider/home-maker as being of equal importance.
Family law solicitors at Kidd Spoor Taylor are also expecting the inclusion of some rules to combat ‘gold diggers’. Basically this would mean that in the event of divorce either partner would be able to keep the assets they brought into the marriage at the onset. So an erstwhile spouse would not be able to lay claims to one’s family owned company or inherited fortune.
This could also deter people from entering into marriages with the intention of fraud.
While pre-nuptials are very common in the United States, their becoming accepted and enforceable in the United Kingdom is a major change in public policy, and akin to a cultural revolution. Family law solicitors at Kidd Spoor Taylor suggest that the passing of this law would make it easier for couples undergoing a separation or divorce to uphold the decisions they took when their relationship was definitely not turbulent. The Law Commission’s report on divorce law is likely to include not just pre-nuptials, but also other marital agreements like post-nuptial and separation contracts.