Pre-nuptial agreement departed from on grounds of fairness

The High Court recently set out a judgment by Mrs Justice Roberts on the application of a pre-nuptial agreement, departed from by the court on the grounds of a fundamental flaw as to its fairness, when considering the future provision for the wife. some 18 months since financial remedy proceedings were issues, the court heard of the relationship of KA and MA, the second marriage for each party and the financial provision afforded to wife under the terms of a pre-nuptial agreement prepared prior to their 2008 marriage.

The terms of the agreement indicated that the parties’ assets were worth somewhere in the region of £35m, mainly formed of the husband’s business interests and a sizeable family home. The total sum of the matrimonial assets was never quite agreed, as the court took the view that any settlement towards wife was not going to be “percentage based” and therefore not entirely central to progress in the case.

The pre-nuptial agreement afforded the wife less than £1m of capital and maintenance of some £2,000 per month, with with such capital provision to diminish should the husband’s wealth reduce inter-marriage. Furthermore, the husband sought to select aspects of the agreement he wished the court to enforce, whilst accepting there were terms that would not apply, give the birth of the parties son, some ten years’ or so prior.

Mrs Justice Roberts set out in her judgment that the pre-nuptial agreement should be departed from on the grounds of fairness, as the husband had in essence, pressurised the wife into agreeing the terms of the agreement, such that he confirmed the wedding would not occur if she were not to agree to the terms of a pre-nuptial agreement. Mrs Justice Roberts felt that the husband was well aware of his fiance’s desire to marry and used this to secure her agreement.

Mrs Justice Roberts confirmed that “..[in the] absence of authority in relation to the severability of clauses in an agreement such as this, the court has to look at the agreement as a whole to determine whether it operates fairly in all the circumstances of this case.”, before going on to state, “I am satisfied that a fair outcome in the assessment of both housing and income needs in this case must reflect the fact that this wife agreed to restrict the ambit of her financial claims should the marriage end in divorce.

The wife was afforded £2.73m, allowing for £1.35m for housing and refurbishment, together with the remaining fund to generate the wife an income for life.

When dealing with financial matters in a marriage breakdown, there are many complex factors which need to be carefully considered. If you are in the process of dissolving your marriage or about to embark on the process, it is vital that you obtain clear and accurate legal advice early on. Our specialist solicitors have the experience and knowledge to assist you. Serving Bedford and central London, our lawyers can help you with your family law and divorce matters. Contact us on 01234 889777 or 0207 177 9777 to discuss your matter with one of our specialist solicitors.


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