Prenups Gaining Traction in U.K.

Aug 8, 2012 by

The current trend toward increasing reliance on prenuptial agreements for marriages in the United States seems to be taking hold in the United Kingdom as well. In a recent case that went before the British Supreme Court, a plaintiff’s request to change a prenup signed in 1998 was denied. The court upheld the agreement indicating that British divorce law is taking the same basic direction as the law in the United States.

The recent case involved a banker, Nicolas Granatino, who appealed to the court to give less weight to a prenuptial agreement he signed prior to marrying Katrin Radmacher in 1998. Granatino’s position was that his wife was a wealthy German heiress in her own right and that she should not profit from the divorce. The case is of particular importance to British divorce lawyers who were following the case to see how much weight their courts would give to prenuptial agreements, which traditionally had been relied upon more heavily in the United States and the rest of Northern Europe.

British divorce courts have traditionally decided whether prenuptial agreements are binding or not on an individual case basis. The situation has led to some infamously huge payouts in divorce cases, like that of Paul McCartney. In enforcing the prenup in the Granatino case, the court ruled that prenups are binding in Britain too, and will be upheld as long as they are fair.

Initially Mr. Granatino argued that he did not receive appropriate legal advice when signing the prenuptial agreement that limited his share of his wife’s estate upon divorce. Granatino had been awarded an annual income of about $158,000 for life but Ms. Radmacher appealed the ruling and the payout was reduced to about $100,000 per year. A court statement affirmed the decision saying “The husband should only be granted provision for his role as the father of the two children and not for his own long-term needs.”

 

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