Pre-Nups and Legal Advice

The recent case of S v H [2020] EWFC B16 has been before His Honour Judge Booth, which involved both divorce proceedings and insolvency law.

There were also other complications which included allegations that the husband had hidden assets and that the wife had failed to disclose assets.

In any event, the husband was 69 and the wife was 56. The parties married in 2010. The parties had been married previously and they both had children from other relationships, although the couple did not have any children between them.

Days before the wedding, the parties signed a pre-nuptial agreement but neither party took legal advice before signing that documentation.

The wife was significantly wealthier than the husband. The wife had assets worth circa £3m and a net income of circa £100,000. The husband was employed part-time by the wife in her business and however, and whilst the wife worked full time, the husband would take care of the wife’s twin daughters.

The parties separated in 2016 and the wife issued a divorce petition in September 2016, meaning that the length of the marriage was circa 6 years.

Financial remedy proceedings were shortly thereafter initiated, and the wife relied upon the pre-nuptial agreement signed days prior to the party’s marriage.

The proceedings concluded in January 2020, meaning that the proceedings were conducted over some 3 years.

In essence, the HHJ Booth determined that in relation to the pre-nuptial agreement:

“There is no value in the pre-nuptial agreement. There was no formal process of disclosure, there was no advice given to either party, other than by the notary who prepared the document and at five days before the ceremony.”

HHJ Booth also determined that, based on the husband’s needs, that the wife pay the husband the sum of £675,000 (to repay debts he had incurred during the marriage due to receiving no financial support from the wife during the marriage). The husband also received property in trust to live in mortgage-free until his death. The husband also received 60% of the wife’s pension.

Therefore, to conclude, the pre-nuptial agreement had no effect on the financial remedy proceedings.

It is imperative that both parties receive legal advice prior to signing a pre-nuptial agreement. Failing to do so could lead to the pre-nuptial agreement having no legal bearing.

This information provided in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice and each relationship breakdown requires careful consideration in our view by a person fully qualified before decisions are made and before you embark on a certain course of action.

Emma Aslett

Penn Chambers Solicitors

0207 183 459

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