Following recent reports that pre-nuptial agreements are soon to be given legislative support comes a case in which the current attitude of the courts towards 'pre-nups' has been made clear.
It involved a wealthy couple who entered into a pre-nup just before they married. The marriage proved short-lived, however, as it foundered after only 15 months, despite the couple already having a son and the wife being pregnant with a second child.
The husband had assets in excess of £13 million and an income of nearly £400,000 per annum net of tax. The wife had a net worth of almost nil.
Under the pre-nup, the wife was entitled to an income of £8,000 per month plus £3,000 per annum per child. These sums were reduced to take account of the value of the occupancy by the wife and children of a property owned by the husband.
The pre-nup was entered into with the benefit of legal advice on both sides and was signed by the wife despite the presence on the agreement of a prominent warning that it should not be signed unless the signatory intended to be bound by its terms.
Despite this, the wife sought to have the agreement set aside and claimed that she should receive the full range of 'financial remedies' (as lawyers call them) available on divorce.
The court rejected her claim, Judge Mostyn stating that 'the law adopts a strict policy of requiring the demonstration of something unfair before it will open the Pandora's Box of litigation where there has been an agreement of this nature'.