We have seen increasingly in the last few years clients coming to the office wishing to draw up Prenuptial Agreements. These clients are both English and international clients wishing to safeguard their assets prior to marriage.
Obviously in the last few years the case law has benefitted prenuptial agreements and they are now taken into consideration on divorce.
The US has long advocated and upheld prenuptial agreements. It was recently announced in the press that Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Jones are to divorce after 13 years of marriage. They have a prenuptial agreement which entitles Catherine to £1 million for every year of marriage and £3 million if Michael was to stray (£3 million per affair). With the track record that Michael came to the marriage with having previously cheated on his first wife, Diandra, it was perhaps understandable Catherine wanted to impose such a condition! (It is very questionable whether an English court would uphold such a term however). Michael in response asked for a confidentiality clause so that Catherine could not speak of their relationship after divorce. So is a prenuptial worth the cost? Well perhaps the general public would think the cost involved was not worth it to them as they did not possess such assets as these well known celebrities. However, the cost of a prenuptial need not be overly expensive and in the long run beneficial.
Duncan Bannatyne of Dragon’s Den was only recently quoted in the press as saying in hindsight he wishes he had a prenuptial with his second wife. His first wife dealt with their divorce amicably and they have remained on good terms. However his second wife wasn’t so easy to deal with. His wealth fell from £430 million to £85 million. The process took 20 months and was an emotional time. Perhaps in hindsight too if Duncan and his wife had drawn up that agreement then it would have been much more easy to deal with the finances as they set out from the beginning what each was entitled to, causing a lot less stress and unhappiness when they parted.
Our office advises both parties to draw up an agreement in advance of their wedding and to leave sufficient time, i.e a good few months so that there is not the possibility of signing the agreement days or even on the day of their wedding! However, we can also advise on post-nuptial agreements if there was not enough time to get an agreement finalised before the ceremony.