Prenups: Has their time arrived?

Has the time for pre-nuptial agreements in this country finally arrived? The Gazette this week reports that demand for them has soared over the past year, in the wake of the Crossley case. In a survey of '100 of the UK's leading matrimonial lawyers' by accountants Grant Thornton, 77 said that they had seen a rise in the number of prenups, with similar rises in the numbers of pre-civil partnership and cohabitation agreements.

Meanwhile, in this month's Family Law, Mark Harper and Lucie Alhadeff, who represented Stuart Crossley, ask the question: are pre-nuptial agreements now binding in England, in the light of the decision in Crossley? The answer, of course, is that they are not but, as Harper and Alhadeff say: "Crossley provides a very useful mechanism where the prenup is likely to be a significant factor, such as in short, childless marriages". One party may now issue an application requiring the other party to 'show cause' why they should not be held to the terms of the prenup. The case can then follow a shortened procedure, potentially saving considerable time and costs. Note, however, that the procedure may not be appropriate where there are allegations of non-disclosure and where, unlike in Crossley, they could materially affect the likely award.