Are pre-nuptial agreements to become officially legally binding?

Year Published: 2014

In a very recent case concerning the breakdown of a marriage, the court has decided that they would enforce the pre-nuptial, or pre-marital agreement between parties, as it had been taken out before the marriage with the aid of legal advice. The judge referred to the details of the agreement in his judgment and to the fact that they had both been involved in negotiating the contents. They were only married for just over a year but in that period the wife had a child.

The judge stated that, “The court should seek to apply the terms of the pre-nuptial agreement as closely and practically as it can, unless the evidence of the wife in support of her application demonstrates, to a convincing standard, that she has a prospect of satisfying a court that the agreement should not be upheld.” She failed.

This is more evidence following the huge publicity surrounding the case of Gradmacher and Grantino, and subsequent cases, that the court are now moving towards a general acceptance of pre-nuptial agreements.

At the same time, the government via the Law Commission is considering bringing in law reform which would actually put the agreements on a solid legal footing. There have been consultations before but nothing has ever materialised. This time it may have to be different – otherwise the courts could be left to set the rules, something that neither they nor the government want to happen.

The proposals are due to be published later this month (February 2014).

For more information on pre-nuptial agreements and other family law issues, please contact a member of our family team on 01625 442100.


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