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Pre-nuptial Agreements Expected to Rise After Ex-wife Loses Court Battle

09 Nov 2017

Posted in Family Law

Pre-nuptial agreements can be a thorny subject, with many seeing them as a very unromantic start to a life together.

However, the appeal of Prenuptial Agreements as a way to protect wealth going into a marriage is expected to gain in popularity after a woman lost her case for an equal share of her ex-husband’s assets.

Karen Hart had wanted half of her husband’s £9.4m fortune, but at the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Moylan, agreed the £3.5m, out of total resources of just under £9.4m, in a financial remedy order made in June 2015, was the right decision.

The couple were married for 23 years and Mrs Hart’s solicitor said the settlement ‘should have been based on an equal sharing of the assets they created between them during this time’.

However, she said the ruling ‘leaves the law in a state of flux, something that we are inclined to agree with.

She said the view taken by many is that it allows a judge to find that the financial contribution of one spouse outweighs the family and domestic contribution of the other. She added that this can lead to a result that is unfair and discriminatory with more similar outcomes likely to follow – potentially setting the law back many years.

It is a case, which is unusual in that so much weight has been given to pre-marriage contributions after such a long marriage.

In many ways, it sends out a message that it’s important – even, vital to establish and prove what assets you have invested into the relationship prior to the official marriage as they could also be included in any settlement.

Therefore, it stands to reason that we could potentially start to see a rise in prenuptial agreements by couples as a result.

For many pre-nuptial agreements, in other words pre-marriage contracts are seen as a taboo, but many argue they should be seen as an insurance policy if the marriage fails.

It is a counter-argument worth bearing in mind, as the average length of a modern marriage in the UK is according to most statistics is around 13 years, and divorce occurs in around 40 or 50 per cent of cases.

These figures show why prenuptial agreements are becoming more popular and more common in recent times. The case of this couple will no doubt continue to ensure pre-nuptial agreements remain a topic worth debating.