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War Stories on Pre- and Post-nuptial agreements

Date: 21/09/2020 Type: Articles Topic: HNW Divorce | Finances | Modern Family |

Marital agreements are becoming increasingly popular in England & Wales as more couples seek greater certainty of financial outcomes in the event they divorce. The increasing number of international couples (who may be more used to such agreements) has also made marital and civil partnership agreements more popular and culturally acceptable in England & Wales.

Common reasons to have them include:

  • Couples wanting to avoid repetition of an acrimonious divorce


  • Families who do not want their extended family’s wealth diluted owing to the divorce of a family member


  • Business owners who want to avoid the forced sale of shares through the divorce of a business partner/owner; or


  • The partner with disproportionately greater wealth who wants to ringfence their pre-marriage assets


  • Where there has been a change during marriage, to a couple’s circumstances or legal rights

Whilst marital agreements are not legally binding in England and Wales, they hold considerable weight provided they are entered into freely, with full information, independent legal advice and without any undue pressure.  However, they are highly contentious documents as they seek to reduce the legal financial responsibilities of the wealthier party and limit the legal rights of the weaker financial party and sometimes that disparity can be considerable.

As every couple’s situation is unique, it is essential that marital agreements are drafted to match the specific requirements of each party

If a marital agreement involves a couple who have international connections, the advice required before entering into that agreement may become increasingly complex. There are also many myths surrounding the enforceability of marital agreements worldwide, some may have factual origins, whilst others are completely fictional.

Clients facing a divorce in England, with marital or civil partnership agreements drafted abroad, can find the advice they receive to be in stark contrast to the advice they expected to receive.

There are also many additional considerations for legal practitioners when drafting marital agreements for international couples. 

My talk will briefly cover:

  • England’s current approach to pre- and post-marital agreements


  • Common myths about international pre- and post-marital agreements


  • Additional considerations for practitioners drafting pre- and post-marital agreements where there is an international dimension and


  • Some of the common threads for challenging the validity of marital agreements in recent case law.


Lucy Greenwood

The International Family Law Group LLP



Lucy Greenwood
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