Prenups are Serious Business

Aug 8, 2012 by

When the British Supreme Court upheld a decision last month in favor of heiress Katrin Radmacher it showed that divorce law in the U.K. was following U.S. laws in that legally recorded prenuptial agreements are binding. The move signaled that even wealthy women are likely to have their assets protected by courts in future. The case was of particular importance to British divorce lawyers who were following it to see just how much legal weight would be given to prenuptial agreements in that country.

Now it seems more people in the U.K. were watching the court’s ruling than just divorce lawyers, as a missing millionairess is now feared murdered by her husband over a bitter divorce battle involving a prenuptial agreement that would have left him strapped for cash and property. Friends of missing Joanna Brown said the couple’s marital split might have been affected by the recent ruling of the Supreme Court which found in favor of a wealthy heiress by upholding a prior prenuptial agreement that limited her husband’s access to her estate in the event of divorce.

Mrs. Brown’s husband, Robert Brown, has been arrested on suspicion of murder as speculations points to the fact that the couple was going through an acrimonious divorce and that he had signed a prenuptial agreement prior to the couple’s marriage in 1999. If the court found the prenup binding in the Brown’s divorce, Robert Brown would have been left basically broke and homeless. The fact that Joanna Brown conveniently disappeared just before the divorce could be finalized seems to be more than just a coincidence in the case.

Added factors include Joanna Brown’s privileged background and wealth prior to marriage in contrast to her husband who worked his way up from a working-class childhood in Edinburgh. Joanna already owned a $6 million mansion when the couple met in 1998. After separating and battling divorce for three years, she turned the house into a bed and breakfast hotel to help defray her legal fees for the divorce. Mr. Brown was arrested at his rented home where he shared custody of the couple’s two children, nine and ten-years old.

If anything positive can be gleaned from the case at all it might be that prenuptial agreements in marriage should positively be taken very seriously. What you agree to and sign will be legally recorded with the court and it will most likely be legally binding for a very long time, maybe even eternally binding.


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