Lawyer urges pre-nups to cut uncertainty

Clare Fletcher, a specialist divorce lawyer at the Solihull office of the Wilkes Partnership has urged couples to consider making pre-nuptial agreements before the big day.

“The government has recently been urged by the Law Commission to strengthen pre-nuptial agreements by formally making them fully legally enforceable.

“This would be a major step forward in terms of achieving fairness and equity when a marriage breaks down” said Fletcher.

“Until now, such agreements could be made but they may not be legally binding, though courts have often been willing to take them into account in dividing assets on a divorce, especially since a landmark case in 2010.

“However, until now, the extent to which they are reflected in the division of assets has remained at the discretion of the courts.”

The unfairness of this has been widely felt.  Recently, the daughter of one of Britain’s wealthiest men expressed dismay at the award of £1.2m to her former husband, contrary to the terms of a pre-nuptial agreement under which he had waived rights to any of her wealth.

In this case, the court judgement did not reflect the pre-nuptial agreement, a reminder that such agreements are not always enforced at present.

Fletcher added: “I welcome the plans to formally embody pre-nuptial agreements within the law, though the difficulty will remain of encouraging an engaged couple to think the unthinkable – that the marriage might end in failure.

“But around 42% of marriages end in divorce and unexpected events, sometimes driven by unexpected emotional or financial circumstances.

“Fully enforceable pre-nuptial agreements could reduce uncertainty, avoid unnecessary litigation and even encourage second marriages if either or both partners are concerned about risking all the assets they have built up”. 

The Wilkes Partnership’s family team offer an efficient, commercial and modern approach to deal with all the issues you may encounter during divorce or relationship breakdown, including pre-nuptial agreements.  Please click here for further details.

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