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Supreme Court Rules Pre-Nuptial Agreement can be decisive

Pre-Nuptial Agreements
Published: 28th February 2017 - Category: Pre-Nuptial Agreements - Author: Lynne Bastow

The Supreme Court has ruled that Pre Nups are indeed binding in the case of Radmacher v Granatino [2010] UKSC 42.  The case in question revolves around Katrin Radmacher a German paper company heiress and her former husband Nicholas Granatino. 

The Ex husband issued proceedings against the Court of Appeal decision. They had cut his divorce settlement from £5 million to £1 million.  Mr Granatino was questioning if the Court of Appeal had erred in their judgement. He sought to undermine that Pre-Nuptial or ante-nuptial agreements should be given decisive weight.

The Interpretation of the Law

The statute in question is Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.  The parties had freely entered into such an agreement in 1998 just three months before they were married.  The agreement was signed in the presence of a notary public in Germany.  The parties separated 8 years later.  The husband applied for financial relief and was granted a sum in excess of £5.5 million.  The High Court judge in question did take into account the Pre-Nuptial Agreement. However, he did not determine that this should be decisive so attached less weight to it.

Court of Appeal

The wife applied to the Court of Appeal and won. It’s judgement stated that the such agreements should and must be given decisive weight.  The husband lost his appeal to the Supreme Court. The basic premise here is one of fairness.

Before this judgement it was generally understood that Pre-Nuptial Agreements are not recognised in English law. This is clearly no longer the case.

Pre-Nuptial Agreement conditions

There are some pre considerations:

Did the parties obtain independent legal advice?

If not, were they given the opportunity to take legal advice and chose not to?

Have they exchanged full and frank financial disclosure?

Is the agreement fair in the circumstances?

Hence Pre-Nuptial Agreements are not decisive in all circumstances, they are still subject to judicial discretion, but if the above is complied with they are likely to be enforced.

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