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Nuptial Agreements

Affectionate couple announcing their engagement with selfies while sitting at cafe. Happy couple taking a selfie and showing off their wedding ring at coffee shop.

How To Get a Prenup

In a straw poll the majority of engaged couples could see the sense in signing a prenuptial agreement before their wedding but they weren’t sure how to go about getting one. In this article prenup agreement expert, Robin Charrot, looks at how to get a prenup.Family law and prenuptial agreement solicitors For legal help with a prenuptial agreement call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form.Are prenups unromantic? If you are engaged to be married you may be worried about raising the idea of a prenuptial agreement with your fiancée or fiancé. That’s totally understandable as no one wants to appear unromantic or to cast a pall over the engagement celebrations. Whilst prenups may not be romantic they do show that you care and that you are taking your future seriously. That’s because a prenuptial agreement has to be ‘fair’ to both a husband and wife or to both civil partners. Therefore, if you are the financially weaker party to the marriage or civil partnership, the suggestion of a prenup, whilst not romantic, can offer you peace of mind and financial  security. Who wants a prenup? As prenuptial agreement solicitors we are often initially approached by third parties wanting to make initial enquiries to help sort out a prenup for an engaged couple. There can be many very valid reasons for this, such as: Parents wanting to protect the deposit on the family home because they gifted the deposit money to their son or daughter. Grandparents wanting to make lifetime gifts to a grandchild as part of estate planning and wanting to keep gifted money ‘in the family’. A parent or grandparent, having transferred assets to a child to avoid care home fee issues or to minimise inheritance tax, wanting to ensure that the transferred property is ring fenced in the prenuptial agreement. A family member who has transferred shares in a family business to the younger generation as part of business and retirement planning. The trustee of an onshore or offshore discretionary trust where the trustees anticipate making future capital or income distributions. A family member who has left a substantial legacy in their will to a family member and who wants to ensure that their legacy is protected through the prenuptial agreement ringfencing it. A parent or family member has been through a difficult divorce and wants to protect the engaged couple by ensuring they sign a prenuptial agreement to ensure that they don’t end up in a bitter and expensive court battle over the divorce financial settlement. A parent or other family member is from overseas where prenuptial agreements are common place. An accountant or financial advisor or other professional who wants to ensure that a client is financially protected,  for example, where one party to the marriage has already inherited a lot of money or won the lottery or is a sportsperson with exceptionally high earnings but a time limited career span. In addition, many engaged couples are also proactive in seeking out prenuptial agreement advice. For example, a financially weaker party to the marriage may actively seek a prenuptial agreement to show they aren’t a gold digger or to show extended family that they aren’t marrying for financial reasons. Equally, the financially stronger party to the engagement may want to protect their partner with the security of a prenuptial agreement that meets their needs should the couple take the decision to separate at a later date. How to get a prenup The often-asked question is ‘how to get a prenup’ whereas the question really is ‘how do I get my partner to agree to a prenuptial agreement and how do I tactfully raise the topic?’ Every couple is different so what works for one won’t work for someone else but prenuptial agreement solicitors say it is best to avoid the topic whilst on bended knee or when saying yes. Equally, it is best not to leave the question of a prenup to the last minute when you or your partner are stressing about wedding arrangements and last-minute preparations. In addition, for a prenup to carry weight with the family court, it should ideally be signed twenty-eight days before the wedding. That means the topic of the prenup agreement has to be raised well in advance of the wedding date so that the contents can be discussed and agreed. One of the best ways to raise the topic of a prenup is in a general discussion about your future together. For example, you may be planning to move in with a partner or buy a house together or contemplating starting a family. Another possibility is to raise the topic as part of your financial paperwork. For example, if you are planning on writing a new will in contemplation of your marriage or signing a new power of attorney or taking out additional life insurance. The key point about a prenup agreement is that the agreement should protect both of you as the agreement needs to be fair and meet both of your respective needs to be given weight by the family court. Conditions for a prenup Prenuptial agreement solicitors say unless both of you comply with some conditions for a prenup agreement the document may carry little or no weight and therefore may be a pointless exercise. The conditions for a prenup are: The prenup must be freely entered into. You and your partner must fully appreciate the implications of entering into the prenup. The agreement must not be significantly unfair to one spouse or civil partner. You and your partner must each have your own independent legal advice. You and your partner must each provide financial information about your assets, income and any debts. A prenup should ideally be finalised at least twenty-eight days before the wedding. Prenuptial agreement solicitors say that if you are interested in learning more about the option of signing a prenuptial agreement then the best way forward is to have a chat with an expert so you get a better idea of how a prenup may help and protect your family. ​Family law and prenuptial agreement solicitors For legal help with a prenuptial agreement call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form.Latest From Our Nuptial Agreements Blog:
Robin Charrot
Jul 01, 2021   ·   6 minute read
I love you. Amazed surprised positive African American couple sitting in the cafe and being covered with a blanket while getting engaged

Are Prenuptial Agreements Legally Binding in the UK?

The short answer to the question ‘are prenuptial agreements legally binding in the UK?’ is no but please read on as prenuptial agreements can save you a lot of money. They are the financially prudent and the sensible, if unglamorous part, of wedding planning.Prenuptial Agreement Solicitors Evolve Family Law specialises in prenuptial agreements. For advice on your prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement options call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Our offices in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire and Whitefield, Manchester are open with social distances measures in place for face to face meetings, however an appointment is required. We also offer remote meetings by appointment by video call or telephone for those who prefer not to travel.​ What is a prenuptial agreement? A prenuptial agreement is an increasingly common document that an engaged couple enter into prior to their marriage. If someone isn’t sure what a prenuptial agreement is or what it does then they can be more wary about signing the document so it is best not to make assumptions about your partner’s understanding of what a prenuptial agreement is and will do.   In essence a prenuptial agreement will govern how a couple will regulate and resolve their financial affairs in the event of a separation. The prenuptial agreement is bespoke to the couple and can be as detailed or as simple as the couple prefer.   Prenuptial agreements and UK family law Now is a good time to answer the question ‘are prenuptial agreements legally binding in the UK?’ That’s because the leading family law case report on prenuptial agreements was ten years old in October 2020. The case remains good case law that is followed by family law judges when they are asked to consider a prenuptial agreement in divorce and financial settlement proceedings. The judges follow this case report, and later decided cases, in the absence of any UK legislation on the status of prenuptial agreements in UK divorce law.   The leading family law case on prenuptial agreements remains the 2010 UK Supreme Court decision of Radmacher v Granatino.   What is the legal status of prenuptial agreements?  A prenuptial agreement doesn’t have any statutory or legislative basis and isn’t a binding contract in the same way as a commercial contract. However, that doesn’t mean that a prenuptial agreement doesn’t have legal status. It gets its status from case law, particularly from the leading court case of Radmacher.   Prior to the case of Radmacher prenuptial agreements were thought to be contrary to public policy because they might encourage separation, though the reality was couples wanted to enter into prenuptial agreements, not with a view to separation, but to cover that eventuality, in the same way couples organise life insurance, Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney. The Radmacher case acknowledged the importance of couples being able to freely enter prenuptial agreements.   The status of prenuptial agreements after the Radmacher court case In the Radmacher case a French husband and a German wife entered into a prenuptial agreement three months before their marriage. In essence, the prenuptial agreement said that neither the husband nor the wife would make a claim on the other’s property if they separated and got divorced. The couple had two children together but eventually separated. The husband made a financial claim and the wife said the prenuptial agreement should be binding on him.   During the financial court proceedings the court had to assess the relevance of the prenuptial agreement. The wife, who was heir to family wealth, said the prenuptial agreement should be binding but the husband argued that it wasn’t. His argument was based on the fact that he did not have legal advice when he agreed to the prenuptial agreement, there had been no financial disclosure or negotiations before the agreement was signed and the couple had children after entering into the agreement.   The court case went all the way to the Supreme Court and that’s why it remains a leading case on the status of prenuptial agreements in financial court proceedings. The Supreme Court said that ‘’the court should give effect to a nuptial agreement that is freely entered into by each party with a full appreciation of its implications unless in the circumstances prevailing it would not be fair to hold the parties to their agreement."   The key points from the Radmacher case is that your prenuptial agreement must be freely entered into and should be fair.   What is a freely entered into and fair prenuptial agreement? As it is ten years since the Radmacher decision not only are more couples choosing to enter into prenuptial agreements but the family court is also being asked to look at the relevance of prenuptial agreements in divorce and financial proceedings.   If you are looking at signing a prenuptial agreement then it is important to ensure that your agreement is drafted by a prenuptial agreement solicitor who knows what the court will look at when deciding whether to enforce the agreement or to give it weight in any financial court proceedings.   Whilst prenuptial agreements are not currently automatically enforceable as a contract the family court will either enforce it or give weight to the terms of the prenuptial agreement (thus potentially reducing the size of the financial settlement that would otherwise have been awarded in divorce and financial proceedings ) if the following formalities are met: The terms of the prenuptial agreement must be fair to both parties and must meet the needs of any children There must have been financial disclosure so that the husband and wife each had an understanding of the other’s financial position so they could make informed decisions about the content of the agreement and whether to sign it The prenuptial agreement should be signed at least twenty one days prior to the marriage ceremony or civil partnership The agreement should be freely entered into with no duress or undue influence or misrepresentations about signing the prenuptial agreement Both parties to the prenuptial agreement should take their own independent legal advice before signing the document.   Is a prenuptial agreement a good idea? Since the Radmacher case prenuptial agreement solicitors have seen a substantial rise in enquiries about both prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements. That is because, in today’s age, couples want to plan and feel financially secure, whatever the future holds for them. To a family solicitor that is just sensible and prudent planning from a committed and switched-on couple who don’t want to engage in expensive court litigation should they decide to separate at a later date.Prenuptial Agreement Solicitors For help with your prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement call the friendly, specialist prenuptial agreement solicitors at Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Our offices in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire and Whitefield, Manchester are open with social distances measures in place for face to face meetings, however an appointment is required. We also offer remote meetings by appointment by video call or telephone for those who prefer not to travel.Latest From Our Nuptial Agreements Blog:
Robin Charrot
Feb 18, 2021   ·   6 minute read
side view of concentrated couple reading contract during meeting with lawyer in office

Is a Prenup a Good Idea?

In 2020 it is difficult to plan a wedding with all the uncertainties about Covid-19 and the impact of coronavirus on your ability to organise your wedding and with the threat of localised lockdowns and the requirement to practice social distancing. However, Manchester family solicitors say that it is still possible to sign a prenuptial agreement as part of your wedding planning. In this blog we look at whether a prenup is a good idea.Manchester Prenuptial Agreement Solicitors Manchester and Cheshire based Evolve Family Law solicitors specialise in relationship agreements and prenups. If you need advice about a prenuptial agreement or any other aspect of family law call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form to set up a video conference or telephone appointment. ​Is a prenup agreement a good option? Manchester prenup solicitors are often asked what the point of a prenuptial agreement is if it isn’t legally binding in the English divorce court. However, although a prenup agreement isn’t binding on the English family court, Manchester prenup agreement solicitors say that provided the prenuptial agreement is drawn up properly it could be given substantial weight. In real terms, if you are a high net worth Individual, a prenup could save you millions. If you aren’t a high net worth individual, a prenup agreement is still a good idea because: The prenuptial agreement could ring fence or safeguard pre-marriage acquired assets, such as a family inheritance, a trust fund, a family business or farm or a pension that you contributed to many years before your planned marriage The prenup could protect children from an earlier marriage or relationship by making sure that if you get divorced your second wife or husband doesn’t walk away with assets that you brought to the marriage or that you need to provide for your children from an earlier relationship If you draw up a prenuptial agreement before the marriage and the terms are fair to both of you the agreement should reduce animosity and legal costs if you take the decision to separate at a later date.    When will a court follow what is in a prenuptial agreement?  If you are contemplating signing a prenuptial agreement then it is essential to know when a court will, or is likely, to follow what is in the prenuptial agreement when ordering a financial settlement as part of divorce proceedings.   There are three potential scenarios if you sign a prenup and either you or your spouse later start divorce proceedings: The divorce court ignores what is in the prenuptial agreement – either because the court doesn’t think that the agreement was drawn up with safeguards in place or doesn’t meet one spouse’s needs The divorce court places weight on the prenuptial agreement and although the agreement isn’t followed to the letter the divorce court makes a financial settlement award that is less generous than it would have made had the prenuptial agreement not been signed The divorce court follows the agreement recorded in the prenup and makes a financial settlement and financial court order in accordance with the provisions in the prenup.   You are more likely to get the divorce court to follow options 2 or 3 if the court is satisfied that the prenup was freely entered into by each party to the agreement with a full appreciation of its implications unless in the circumstances prevailing at the time of the separation or divorce it wouldn't be fair to hold the parties to the terms of their prenup agreement.     How do you freely enter into a prenuptial agreement? It is often assumed that there is no free will involved in signing a prenuptial agreement as either the intended husband or wife has all the power and the other party feels that they have little alternative but to sign the prenuptial agreement if they want to get married. However, prenup solicitors say that every prenuptial agreement should be freely entered into to avoid the divorce court ruling that one party didn’t understand the agreement and therefore shouldn’t be bound by its terms.   To give the prenuptial agreement the best chance of being upheld in any subsequent divorce and financial proceedings, the following requirements should be met:  The terms of the prenup must be fair and meet the needs of the parties and any children who are dependent on them. If the agreement isn’t fair it isn’t likely that the agreement will be fully upheld or even partially upheld. A good prenup solicitor can advise on the fairness principle that the divorce court uses to guide you on what provisions to put in the agreement The prenup was entered into voluntarily with no undue influence or duress and of your own free will and signed and executed as a deed There is financial disclosure of each other’s financial circumstances. Whilst you may be wary to detail the full extent of your net wealth or your partner may be embarrassed about their debts or income, financial disclosure is essential as unless you know what the other has you can't make informed choices about what should go in the prenup and what would be fair provision if you were to separate The prenup should be signed in advance of the wedding. The recommendation by the Law Commission report is that prenuptial agreements should be entered into at least 28 days before the marriage or civil partnership   Independent legal advice on the prenup is taken. That is to ensure that you both understand the legal consequences of signing the prenup and what you might be gaining or losing by entering into the prenuptial agreement.    Should I sign a prenup? You should only sign a prenup if you are willing to be bound by the terms of the agreement. You should not enter a prenuptial agreement thinking that you can argue, in any subsequent divorce proceedings, that the terms of the agreement are unfair to you. That argument may not succeed if the agreement was drawn up properly with the safeguards in place.   Likewise, if you have substantial pre-marriage acquired wealth or you want to ring fence specified assets or you don’t want financial arguments at the time of any divorce proceedings a prenup can be a sensible option for both you and your intended husband or wife.Manchester Prenup Solicitors Manchester and Cheshire based Evolve Family Law solicitors specialise in preparing relationship agreements and advising on prenuptial agreements. If you need advice about a prenuptial agreement or any type of relationship agreement or other aspect of family law call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form to set up a video conference or telephone appointment.Latest From Our Nuptial Agreements Blog:
Robin Charrot
Aug 24, 2020   ·   6 minute read
What happens if you sign a prenuptial agreement and your husband dies?

What happens if you sign a prenuptial agreement and your husband dies?

The question, “What happens if you sign a prenuptial agreement and your husband dies?’’, is one that every fiancée (or rather their family solicitor) should ask before a prenuptial agreement is signed. This is because although prenuptial agreements record how assets will be divided should a couple separate or divorce, the agreement can also set out how much a spouse will receive if their husband or wife dies. The prenuptial agreement could state that a spouse cannot make a claim against the estate if the will is consistent with the terms of the prenuptial agreement. Many people query the point of putting in details of what a husband or wife will receive following their spouse's death, in the prenuptial agreement. After all, prenuptial agreements are about separation or divorce and wills are for death and estate planning.  However, as Manchester divorce solicitors we normally say that it is a good idea to detail what provision will be made available to a spouse in the event of a death. This is especially the case where there are children from earlier relationships to consider or where a spouse does not plan to leave their entire estate to their husband or wife. The case of Mrs Hendry The widely reported case of Mrs Hendry is an excellent example of why it is important to have a prenuptial agreement and how it can assist if there is a claim against the estate. Mrs Hendry came from the Philippines to marry her husband. Mr Hendry already had two adult children from a prior relationship, the youngest of whom was twenty-one at the date of Mr Hendry’s death. The marriage between Mr and Mrs Hendry did not last. Mrs Hendry filed for divorce and asked the family court to give her half of Mr Hendry’s assets. Mr Hendry died before the family court decided how the money should be divided. Mr Hendry’s will left his estate to his children and Mrs Hendry was left a small pension. Negotiations started between Mrs Hendry and the two children. Mrs Hendry wanted half the estate of her late husband. The children initially offered her what she would have got under the couple’s signed prenuptial agreement. They later offered her a third of the estate. Agreement could not be reached between the widow and children, resulting in Mrs Hendry making a claim against the estate. Mrs Hendry asked the court to make ‘’reasonable provision’’ for her from the estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. The judge rejected the claim because Mrs Hendry had not made the application within the six-month deadline from the date of grant of Probate. What makes the case interesting to Manchester divorce solicitors and lawyers advising on wills and claims against estates is that Mr and Mrs Hendry signed a prenuptial agreement prior to the marriage. The prenuptial agreement said, in the event of a divorce, Mrs Hendry would get a payment of £10,000 and a one-way ticket back to the Philippines. It is not clear from the media court case reports what, if anything, the prenuptial agreement said about what would happen if Mr Hendry predeceased Mrs Hendry. However, the judge dealing with the estate claim commented on the fact that the prenuptial agreement only made limited financial provision for her. In the case of Mrs Hendry, she was time barred from making a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. However, if she had not been time barred, the fact that she had signed a prenuptial agreement and was separated from Mr Hendry at the time of his death would have been weighed up, together with  the circumstances surrounding the signing of the prenuptial agreement and the needs of Mr Hendry’s children. What can we learn from the case of Mr and Mrs Hendry? There are some simple lessons we can take from this particular case: The importance of signing a prenuptial agreement, and preferably detailing what provision should be made on both divorce and death for a spouse (the estate provision is normally more generous if the couple are living together at the time of the spouse’s death); The need to review wills after a separation or divorce and, if necessary, amend them and/or provide a letter of explanation for testamentary bequests; The importance of complying with deadlines if you want to make a claim against an estate and the benefits of taking specialist legal advice.   For information on prenuptial agreements and financial settlements on divorce or claims against estates please call Alison Barnett on +44 (0) 1477 464020 or email Alison at alison@evolvefamilylaw.co.uk  
Louise Halford
Jul 26, 2019   ·   4 minute read
The Archers And The Postnuptial Agreement

The Archers And The Postnuptial Agreement

Who would have thought that the Radio 4 series, The Archers, would tackle the topic of postnuptial agreements? The long running drama series recently raised the subject of the post nuptial agreement head on. It is perhaps not surprising that the writers of the Archers thought the sometimes difficult conversation about a postnuptial agreement was suitable script material. After all, in recent instalments of the radio soap, a variety of family law areas have been explored, including domestic violence and surrogacy. So how do you get postnuptial agreements into a radio programme that has been on the air since the early 1950s? Simple, the scriptwriters got the mother to raise it. It is a classic case for a postnuptial agreement, namely: A family farm owned by the husband and his family prior to marriage; A husband and wife in business together; A speedy courtship and quick marriage so the fear is that the husband and wife do not know one another as well as if they had been in a long-term relationship. We should not forget that probably the most common reason for raising the topic of a postnuptial agreement is a relative’s instinct and gut view that a postnuptial agreement would be a sound idea. It is often the case that the relative does not have any specific reason for worry but simply that they care enough to raise the topic of a postnuptial agreement. Manchester divorce solicitors tend to find that in addition to caring relatives of a husband or wife, professional advisors (such as accountants, financial advisors or private client and will solicitors) will suggest that some thought is given to signing a postnuptial agreement.  What is a postnuptial agreement? A postnuptial agreement is rather like a prenuptial agreement. The big difference is that it is signed after the marriage has taken place, rather than before.  The purpose of the postnuptial agreement is to record how your property will be divided if you separate from your husband or wife.  A postnuptial agreement can be as simple or a complex as a husband or wife wants. For example, the postnuptial agreement can simply ring fence a specific asset such as: The family farm; A husband and wife’s respective inheritances (even if the money has not been received yet); Shares in a family business ( or the sale proceeds if the business is sold); Pre-marriage owned assets (this may be particularly relevant where a husband or wife has children from a prior relationship). If an asset is ring fenced then it means that the agreement says a spouse cannot make a financial claim against that asset if the couple later separate or divorce.  Postnuptial agreements can be more complex than simply ring fencing a specific asset. What should go in the postnuptial agreement in the particular circumstances of a husband or wife is all down to their priorities and specific legal advice tailored to the couple’s needs and family situation. For information about prenuptial or postnuptial agreements or any other type of relationship agreement then please call Robin Charrot on +44 (0) 1477 464020 or contact him by email at robin@evolvefamilylaw.co.uk   
Robin Charrot
Jul 23, 2019   ·   3 minute read
Spousal Maintenance

Are prenuptial agreements binding in the UK?

The "Avon case" of  Ipekçi v McConnell The divorce of Anil Ipekçi and Morgan McConnell hit the headlines because Morgan McConnell is the great granddaughter of the founder of the Avon Company. The case also helps answer the question ‘’are prenuptial agreements binding in the UK?’’  The case is of interest to Manchester divorce solicitors because of the judge’s analysis of the status of the prenuptial agreements and divorce and trusts.   The Avon case Anil Ipekçi made a financial claim against his wife, Morgan McConnell .They had been married for about 12 years and at the time of their separation had 2 children together. Mr Ipekçi had few assets but his wife was the beneficiary of several family trusts. What makes the case of interest to Manchester divorce solicitors is that the judge had to decide: Whether the family trust money could be given to the husband as the wife was the beneficiary of the trust; and   The status of the New York prenuptial agreement.   The judge decided that the trust money was available to the wife and that the prenuptial agreement was ineffective. The judge made a financial award to the husband of about £1.3 million. Some question whether the Avon case means that prenuptial agreements in the UK are not worth doing, after all 1.3 million is a lot to pay out when the wife thought she was protected by a prenuptial agreement.   Are UK prenuptial agreements binding? Prenuptial agreements are not legally binding in the UK but they can carry significant weight when a judge is deciding how to sort out a financial claim. The judge can follow the terms of the prenuptial agreement when making the financial court order or can significantly reduce the size of the financial court order that he/she would have otherwise made because of the existence of the prenuptial agreement.     The Avon facts What went wrong with the Avon prenuptial agreement? The important facts are that just before the marriage, the husband and wife signed a prenuptial agreement in New York to protect the wife's family trusts. Twelve years after the marriage, the wife remained a beneficiary of substantial family trusts and the husband had few assets. The judge decided the wife could access the capital from one of the family trusts with a reported value of $4.45 million. The judge said the trustees would make the funds available to the wife to satisfy a financial court order made in favour of the husband.   The Avon pre-nuptial agreement The divorce of Anil Ipekçi and Morgan McConnell was an international divorce, involving a prenuptial agreement signed in New York and governed by New York state law. The prenuptial agreement said divorce and financial proceedings should be decided using New York law, even if the proceedings took place in another country. If the London divorce court had followed the prenuptial agreement, it would have limited the husband's claim to the increase in the value of three of the wife's properties. As it was not possible to identify an increase in property value, if the New York pre-nuptial agreement had been upheld, the husband would have received nothing after twelve years of marriage.   The Avon prenuptial agreement and the law The judge decided the Avon prenuptial agreement was ineffective because: The husband did not fully understand the implications of signing the pre-nuptial agreement. Although the husband took legal advice, the advice came from an English solicitor on a New York prenuptial agreement and the solicitor had acted for the wife in her first divorce; and The prenuptial agreement did not have a certificate stating that it conformed to New York law. This was important as an expert told the judge that without this certificate, under New York law, the prenuptial agreement would carry minimal weight; and If the pre-nuptial agreement was upheld the husband would be in financial need. The leading UK case on prenuptial agreements (Radmacher v Granatino) says that despite the importance of holding spouses to their prenuptial agreements, the agreement should not leave one spouse in financial need. Therefore, the judge attributed no weight to the Avon prenuptial agreement.   The Avon financial order The judge made a financial court order providing the husband with just over £1.3 million because: The husband had no savings or pension; and The couple had two children and the husband needed to provide a comfortable home for the children; and The relatively high standard of living during the marriage. However, as the 1.3 million was coming from the wife's trust assets the judge decided that half of the sum given to the husband to buy a house (£700,000) must be returned to the wife on the husband's death through a charge-back. Part of the balance of the £1.3 million was to provide a spousal maintenance fund to provide the husband with an income of £15,000 a year, to supplement his earnings.   The lessons from the Avon Case The Avon case emphasises that prenuptial agreements can be upheld by the court or significantly reduce the size of a financial award provided that: Both husband and wife get proper independent legal advice; International aspects of prenuptial agreements are considered; Agreements are reviewed during the marriage to make sure they still meet need.   For information about prenuptial agreements or for advice and representation in financial court proceedings please call Evolve Family Law on +44 (0) 1477 464020 or contact Robin Charrot by email at robin@evolvefamilylaw.co.uk Appointments are available at Evolve Family Law offices in Manchester and Cheshire.
Robin Charrot
Jun 18, 2019   ·   5 minute read
Young happy couple relaxing in nature during autumn day and communicating.

Should You Get A Prenuptial Agreement?

Money is a highly emotive subject and the suggestion of a prenuptial agreement carries the risk of putting a damper on the romance of your engagement, but it can be very beneficial for you and your partner, and potentially your wider family and your business.. Also known as a prenup, a prenuptial agreement is a formal, written agreement that a couple both sign prior to a marriage. The purpose of the agreement is to set out what the financial settlement would look like if they got divorced, outlining how money, assets and property would be divided between the pair. A common misconception surrounding prenuptial agreements in the UK is that they are exclusively for celebrities or the extremely wealthy. Regardless of whether you have £30,000 in savings, own millions in property or, alternatively, expect to be successful in your career and want to ‘ringfence’ the fruits of your success, a prenup might be suitable. Pursuing a prenuptial agreement in the UK could be a sensible option to clarify the protection of the personal or business assets you’ve spent years of hard work building up. Reasons why you should get a prenuptial agreement: If your marriage ends in divorce, a  prenuptial agreement will allow you to quickly address the most common legal hurdles people face in divorce, enabling a quick, less painful and much less costly resolution. If you already have wealth, property, savings, inheritance or even precious family heirlooms, a prenuptial agreement could help provide an extra level of reassurance before entering into a new marriage. Moreover, having a clear and concise agreement in place from the very beginning of your marital relationship can actually lead to clarity, financial transparency and consequently, peace of mind for both parties. If you or your partner have previously been through a divorce, you will be worried about what could happen if things go wrong again. A prenuptial agreement will give you confidence that you don’t have to go through the same financial pain, stress and uncertainty again. If you are a business owner, a prenup can protect the business from being damaged in the event of divorce (which often happens) which will reassure your business partners and employees. If your partner has outstanding debt at the point of becoming married, then pursuing a prenuptial agreement can legally protect you from assuming these obligations when you enter into the marriage. A prenuptial agreement can be an incredibly useful tool for protecting the inheritance rights of your children from a previous marriage.. If during the marriage you or your partner plan to give up a potentially lucrative career to provide full time care to a child or other family member, a prenuptial agreement in the UK can ensure that the person who makes this sacrifice is looked after financially, so that they feel safe doing so. Is a prenuptial agreement legally binding? Prenups aren’t completely binding on the divorce courts at the moment, but if they are done in the right way, they are very heavily influential. International prenuptial agreements Nowadays, an international connection is quite common, whether it is you or your partner who come from another country (even as ‘local’ as Scotland), or simply a case of having a holiday home or other assets abroad. If this is the case, it is important to make sure that your UK prenuptial agreement will work in the other country, and it may even be better to have the prenuptial agreement done in that country. In that case, an English family lawyer would still need to check that the prenuptial agreement works in England too. Taking the First Step Prenuptial agreements in the UK can take a few weeks to negotiate, depending on the complexity of your finances. If you are the one pressing for a prenuptial agreement, it’s worth starting the process approximately 4-5 months before the big day. If you are considering whether you should get a prenuptial agreement, do pick up the phone for a chat and one of our expert family solicitors will be happy to talk through your requirements and give you expert advice on how to proceed. You should also read our detailed guide to prenuptial agreements which is available to download here. Contact Us For a Free Consultation Today
Louise Halford
Jan 11, 2019   ·   4 minute read
How much does a divorce cost?

Spousal maintenance: wife loses Court of Appeal battle for more maintenance as Court ends her spousal maintenance for ‘’life’’

Spousal maintenance: wife loses Court of Appeal battle for more maintenance as Court ends her spousal maintenance for ‘’life’’ Spousal maintenance is always a thorny topic, in many cases the person making the payments thinks that they are paying too much and for too long and the person receiving the spousal maintenance thinks that they are getting too little, taking into account child care responsibilities, lifestyle during the marriage or lack of qualifications or career experience over a long marriage. A husband and wife locked in a Court battle over maintenance payments after their separation in 2012 have hit the news after a Court of Appeal ruling. The couple, William Waggott and his former wife, Kim Waggott split up in 2012, after a 21 year marriage. Mr Waggott was ordered to pay his wife a lump sum of nearly 10 million and spousal maintenance for life at the rate of £175,000 a year. The one thing that the husband and wife were agreed on was that the original Court ruling was unfair; the husband thinking that spousal maintenance for life gave Mrs Waggott no financial incentive to get a job and the wife thinking the amount was too low and needed to be adjusted by the date of the Court of Appeal hearing to take into account cost of living increases and Mr Waggott’s income. The battle lines were drawn with Mr Waggott applying to Court to stop the spousal maintenance for life and Mrs Waggott asking the Court for more maintenance. The Court of Appeal has ruled that Mrs Waggott’s spousal maintenance payments shouldn’t continue for life but instead end in three years’ time. The Court has also said that the amount of maintenance won't increase. As well as losing her spousal maintenance in three years Mrs Waggott also faces substantial legal costs. Reasoning behind the Court decision Mrs Waggott argued that her former husband's earnings capacity had been created during their 21 year marriage and that it was only right that she should continue to share the fruit of the marriage as her ex-husband's ongoing income was still a ‘’matrimonial asset’’. It was also argued, on Mrs Waggott’s behalf, that she should not have to invest some of the near 10 million she had received in 2012 to generate an income for herself, instead of getting ongoing spousal maintenance. It was said that would mean she was using her share of the capital of the marriage to live off when the 10 million was her entitlement to the family assets generated during the marriage. Mr Justice Moylan ruled that the former husband's future earnings capacity is not a ‘’matrimonial asset’’ and accordingly it doesn’t have to be shared with Mrs Waggott and that the wife could invest some off her lump sum and live off the interest or get employment. The Court is always keen to achieve what is known as a ‘’financial clean break’’ to sever the money ties between a husband and wife as soon as possible after a divorce. That will be achieved in the Waggott’s case in three years’ time when the maintenance payments stop.  What does the ruling mean? In the press the Waggott Court of Appeal decision has been hailed as a victory for bread winners and the end of ‘’the meal ticket for life’’ of spousal maintenance. Does the decision mean that? The leading judge was careful to say that he acknowledged that long term maintenance can be required as part of a fair outcome in a divorce . There is therefore a danger in saying that the Waggott decision means there will be an end to spousal maintenance for life. In Mrs Waggott’s case she had received nearly 10 million and both she and her former husband had bought new houses for about 2 million each. That meant Mrs Waggott still had capital and, as importantly, had previously enjoyed a good career and so she could, in the judge’s opinion, adjust to the termination of her spousal maintenance payments without undue hardship. That won't be the case for many families where the economically weaker spouse has used all of their capital sum to pay for a new house, perhaps with a mortgage, and therefore doesn’t have the option of living off interest or the prospect of getting a well-paid job that will pay enough to cover the mortgage and bills. The frustrating thing about family Court decisions is that whilst they lay down principles of law the principles can't be applied rigidly to every family situation. Each Court decision is based on the individual’s personal and financial circumstances. That is why it is so important to get objective legal advice on what a ruling might mean for you and your family. Why? Because there is normally a range of Court orders that a Court could reasonably make in a given family situation rather than one ‘‘right answer’’. That’s why Court litigation is such a lottery as there is always a risk that you could be a loser in a Court battle. In light of this decision many breadwinners will want to review whether they should apply back to Court to stop their spousal maintenance payments for life and others will want advice on how to negotiate a clean break figure following the Court ruling. Equally those receiving spousal maintenance will need legal advice as Mrs Waggott’s case is a clear reminder, to both husband and wives, of the risks and costs of Court litigation. For advice on any aspect of divorce and family finances or to discuss an existing spousal maintenance order please call me on +44 (0) 1477 464020 or contact me by email at robin@evolvefamilylaw.co.uk
Robin Charrot
Apr 12, 2018   ·   5 minute read
Spousal Maintenance

Top family law judge calls for changes in divorce law and for equality between husband and wives

The country’s senior family law judge and president of the family division of the High Court, Mr Justice Munby, has called for a radical change in family law to include: An end to spousal maintenance payments for life; More rights for cohabiting couples; No fault divorce proceedings; The judge’s speech was criticised by some as they thought Mr Justice Munby was rejecting the institution of marriage by recommending the simplification of the divorce process and advocating more rights for cohabiting couples. As a specialist divorce and family finance solicitor one of the things that I love about my job is that it is academically challenging as well as having the privilege of meeting many people who need help with a prenup or cohabitation agreement or need advice on a separation and their financial claims. No working day is ever the same and just when divorce law seems stable there is often a call for reform. That is no bad thing as family law must reflect the society we live in and be fit for purpose. Mr Justice Munby has called for a number of changes that were already being advocated by other senior family law professionals and by organizations such as Resolution, the national family law professionals group. An end to spousal maintenance payments for life At present if a couple get divorced the family Court has the power to make a wide range of financial orders including an order that one spouse pays the other spouse ‘’spousal maintenance’’. The spousal maintenance can be payable for a non-extendable period; for a period of time that can be extended by a Court application or spousal maintenance can be payable for life. During the period that the spousal maintenance is payable a former spouse can normally apply to end the payments early or to reduce the amount of maintenance. The spouse receiving the maintenance can usually apply to the Court for an increase in payments, and in some situations, can ask for spousal maintenance to be paid for a longer period of time. Under the current law if the spouse who is receiving the spousal maintenance remarries then the maintenance automatically stops, whatever the new spouse’s financial circumstances. The judge who decides on a divorce financial award has to make a decision on how assets are split and if spousal maintenance should be paid and, if so for how long, based on statutory criteria. Using the criteria and family case law it is normally possible for an experienced family solicitor to give an idea of the range of possible orders that a judge might make in a particular family scenario. Mr Justice Munby has called for an end to spousal maintenance for life as he thinks that type of order unfairly prejudices the main breadwinner, who is statistically normally the husband. However in most situations spousal maintenance isn’t ordered for life but for sufficient time to allow the economically weaker spouse to adjust to the marriage breakdown or to provide enough income to provide a home for a spouse and dependent children. Some would therefore argue that the Court should be able to continue to be able to award spousal maintenance for life for those families where needs, after a long marriage or where there are young children, can’t be met from capital. More rights for cohabiting couples If cohabitees separate then under Mr Justice Munby’s proposals there wouldn’t be such a massive difference in the sort of financial and property cohabitee settlement that the Court could order in comparison to a divorce award. At the moment cohabitee claims have to be decided based on property law and therefore, unlike a divorce settlement, financial need doesn’t come into the equation when a judge splits a cohabiting couple’s property. Organizations, such as Resolution, have long argued that in an age of cohabiting relationships there should be a reform of the current legislation. No fault divorce proceedings Under current divorce legislation you can only get divorced if you have been separated for 2 or 5 years or if you cite adultery or unreasonable behaviour in the divorce petition. As most people don’t want to wait to commence the divorce proceedings adultery or unreasonable behaviour is used as the basis for the divorce petition. Arguments about what should be put in the divorce documentation petition can make it harder for a couple to reach an amicable agreement over childcare arrangements or the split of assets. That is why there has been a call to make it unnecessary to allege that a spouse has behaved badly in order to get divorced. All change? For as long as I have been qualified as a solicitor (and that is now more years than I care to recall) there has been a movement for family law reform. Over the last 20 years there has been wide sweeping changes in children law with the abolishment of child custody orders and the move to residence orders followed by their banishment and the concept of the child arrangements order. In a changing society is now the time to turn to divorce and cohabitee law? Certainly Mr Justice Munby thinks reform is long overdue. For advice on any aspect of divorce proceedings or cohabitee claims please call me on +44 (0) 1477 464020 or contact me by email at robin@evolvefamilylaw.co.uk
Robin Charrot
Mar 23, 2018   ·   5 minute read