What does marriage really mean these days?  Do people always get married for the right reasons and do most people seriously consider that they will be spending the rest of their days with their betrothed?

Short marriages seem to be even more common these days, especially in high profile and high net worth cases.  Worryingly for the wealthier party, in recent years, spouses have been able to amass considerable wealth from what can only be considered a very short marriage.

Celebrity marriages, divorces and prenuptial agreements

Katie Price’s marriage to Alex Reid is reportedly over and had lasted a mere 11 months. However, Katie must be beside herself at the thought of Alex pocketing some of her estimated £40 million wealth.   He has reportedly already asked for a £2million settlement.  By not signing a prenuptial agreement (which have recently gained more weight in English law) Katie has entered onto very shaky ground.  Although the marriage has been short lived, surely Alex has his eye on the potential prize?  Contrast this with Katie’s first marriage to Peter Andre which could also be considered short as it lasted 4 years.  However, in that case Peter insisted on a prenuptial agreement which may well have worked out a lot less expensive than her latest pending divorce to Mr Reid.

Does a short marriage affect the divorce’s outcome?

So, does a short marriage really make that much difference to the monies awarded on divorce?  In the case of Miller –v- Miller the marriage was only of 3 years’ duration, although the parties cohabited for 4 years prior to this (though the judge did not take this cohabitation into consideration at the time of his judgment).  After the divorce, the wife walked away with £5million awarded as a lump sum and an annual salary of £98,000.  On appeal, the husband lost. In that case at least, it might therefore appear that the length of the marriage did not have a significant influence on the outcome of the divorce.

Do large settlements prevent divorce?

It is not uncommon for a couple to spend a lot of time going through the divorce process only to decide that they then want to reconcile.  For instance, it was reported recently that Marco Pierre White and his wife Mati, who were going through very acrimonious divorce proceedings for the past 3 years, spending an estimated £3million in lawyer’s fees, have reconciled.  Mr Pierre White’s amassed fortune is estimated at £50 million and he was, reportedly, on track to pay up to £25million by way of settlement to his current wife if proceedings had continued.  Was his decision affected by the potential size of the settlement?  We will never know for sure.

In light of the monetary consequences of seemingly more commonplace ‘short marriages’ it is no surprise that pre-nuptial agreements are looking increasingly attractive to unmarried couples.

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