Saturday, September 26, 2009

More pre-nups: An important development?

The BBC has today picked up on the story that more couples are apparently signing pre-nuptial agreements than previously. I won't deny that this is the case, although I'm not sure where the evidence comes from - most of it seems to be anecdotal, and certainly there is no 'central register of pre-nuptial agreements'. Be that as it may, if more such agreements are being entered into then the question must be why, when the law clearly states that they are unenforceable? The article says that lawyers give the increasing number of independently wealthy women, coupled with greater numbers of people marrying later in life with complicated family arrangements, as reasons for their popularity. I would add that the media frenzy in recent years over a sequence of big-money cases in which husbands have (apparently) done very badly has caused wealthy men to try to protect their wealth prior to marriage. At the same time, recent case-law has made it clear that the courts will have regard to pre-nuptial agreements, and may even follow them, in certain circumstances.

A cynic may say that pre-nuptial agreements are for those with money who value that money more highly than relationships (I note that, at the end of the article, Marilyn Stowe (right) says that if she were asked to enter into one, she wouldn't), but will they ever become the norm? I suppose that the more 'normal' they become in terms of numbers of people entering into them, the less 'unromantic' they will seem, but I can't see them ever being used by the vast majority of couples of 'ordinary' means. Still, the fact that a development in family law only applies to the small rich minority has never prevented the media from making a big deal out of it...

2 comments:

  1. Yes, they are the way to save marriage as the AR rules have lost credibility. Should have them for child contact also. I have found the county courts to be very bad and the laws in these areas even worse for being anti nrp and pro break ups.

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  2. ..and why are pre-nups on the rise? There is one very simply reason...the English Courts all encompassing desire to continually deviate into pre-marital assets...pure and simple, these are pre-marriage/marriage-contract assets, which many other judiciaries would never dare go anywhere near ! Not the English courts however, unlike the Scottish and many of our European partners. Notice the Law Commissions/Society's reluctance to actively participate in any European normalisation !!!!

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