‘A city solicitor has been ordered to hand over a £2.2 million London home to his estranged wife after the Judge ruled that she should not be bound by their prenuptial agreement.’ (The Times, February 25th 2014)
The solicitor wanted the house sold and the proceeds divided equally in line with an agreement that the couple had signed in Holland the day before they married, which was 18 years before. The Judge said that the agreement was not fair and accordingly the terms were not binding on the wife.
Why was it not fair? Just because it produced a different outcome to what a Judge might decide hardly makes it unfair. The point of having a prenuptial agreement is to make your own terms. What if it would have favoured the wife when the parties were younger but it had swung around to disadvantage the husband?
Perhaps the unfairness lay in part by the fact it was signed the day before the wedding. It is impossible to accept that there is not an element of emotional pressure on both sides to cut short discussion on any points which should be clarified with the guests turning up the next day.
The EU has tried to harmonise divorce law as much as possible across member states so it is an odd outcome that an agreement which probably would have been upheld in Holland now fails in England.
It would obviously have been much more desirable for the couple to revise the agreement in the course of the marriage as part of their overall estate and Will planning.