Quarter of Couples Split up over Prenup Rows 

Published on 02 January, 2018 | Back to News/Press

Sam Hall - Hall Brown Family Law

A quarter of British couples split up during preparations for their wedding because of arguments about prenuptial agreements.

One of the country’s leading law firms has reported that 21 per cent of engagements were broken off after consulting lawyers about the prospect of having a pre-marital contract.

Sam Hall, the Senior Partner with Hall Brown Family Law, has revealed that a further three per cent of couples decided to call off their weddings after drawing up the documents.

However, he insisted that prenups formed an “essential” part of planning for marriage and backed plans to make them fully legally binding.

“Prenuptial agreements have become much more common over the last five years and not just among those couples with great personal or family wealth which they want to protect.

“Some critics believe that despite their increased popularity they are fundamentally unromantic, given that they involve very detailed financial discussions.

“What we are seeing, though, indicates that they serve a valuable, practical purpose quite apart from that for which they were originally intended.

“As opposed to offering a constructive way of dividing assets should their marriage not last the course, they are highlighting very real and serious differences before a wedding which can actually affect the chances of a couple staying together in the long run.

“Some of those with whom we have dealt have initially expressed great regret at what happened but later acknowledged that their break-ups were less upsetting than might have been the case had they divorced.

“For individuals who have perhaps been living together for some time, in particular, agreeing that it’s ‘high time we married’ might appear to offer long-term stability but considering their finances while putting a prenup in place can cause severe friction and place their relationship under intolerable stress.”

Prenups were given additional weight by a Supreme Court ruling in October 2010 in favour of German heiress Katrin Radmacher. She was able to hold her former husband, financier Nicolas Granatino, to the terms of their premarital contract, limiting his claims on a fortune estimated at £100 million.

Mr Hall said that, buoyed by the decision, couples across England and Wales had adopted such contracts in increasing numbers. He described how Hall Brown had drawn up more than 30 prenups in the course of the last 12 months.

Nevertheless, he noted that even if the documents were prepared properly, they still lacked statutory weight, despite demands to that effect from organisations such as the Law Commission.

Last month, Baroness Deech announced that she would be putting a Private Member’s Bill before parliament in the New Year which would feature provisions to make prenuptial agreements binding.

Mr Hall suggested that taking account of the sums involved was sufficient to deter some individuals from marrying. He outlined how one man had opted to buy his girlfriend an expensive handbag instead of marrying her.

In May last year, one American bride-to-be cancelled her wedding after refusing to sign a prenup. Rather than lose the $8,000 deposit on her wedding reception at New York’s luxurious Harold Pratt House, Yiru Sun decided to turn it into a party for families in need.

Mr Hall said: “Each of the prenups which we’ve found ourselves dealing with have been as particular as the couple’s finances, there are distinct patterns in how people respond. Some do not press ahead once they establish how much an arrangement which the courts might regard as fair might cost.

“Then, there are partners who take offence at the very principle of a prenup and those who object to the proposed figures.

“It’s not unusual for men or women who enquired about the possibility of a premarital contract taking umbrage at how their partners react.

“Even signing a prenup is no guarantee of getting wed. Often, the process can be so exacting that couples realise that marrying each other is perhaps not for the best after all.”

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