Sign a pre-nup and then fight fight fight for this love...

...if not risk fight fight fighting for your savings.

A pre-nuptial agreement is a contract entered into before marriage which outlines how a couple wish to divide their money and property should the marriage end in divorce.

Cheryl-Fernandez-Versini (formerly Cole)….pop princess and poster girl, used to be part of Britain’s biggest girl group, Girl’s Aloud and an X Factor Judge, so has a hugely successful career. Unfortunately for Cheryl, the same success does not seemingly follow her love life.

Given the public divorce that Cheryl had gone through with her millionaire (now former) footballer husband, it could be argued that their finances were on an almost equal footing during and throughout the marriage. So when she remarried should she perhaps have considered a pre-nuptial agreement?

This was Cheryl’s view on the subjectas reported in The Mirror before she wed for a second time, on this occasion it was with the wealthy French Restaurateur Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini.  

Cheryl reportedly slammed pre-nuptial agreements as ‘disgusting’ and (reportedly) refused to sign one on that basis. The marriage has now come to an end and that announcement was made at the start of this year. Granted, this was a very short marriage but there are various reports stipulating that Cheryl is terrified of losing half of her fortune (reportedly 16-20 million pounds worth of fortune). Perhaps a pre-nuptial agreement would not seem so disgusting now!

Of course these are all rumours and stories which sell newspapers and glossy magazines and for all we know Jean-Bernard may not need or want to touch Cheryl’s finances….however there is a serious point here. In the past pre-nuptial agreements used to be seen as:

  • Something for the aristocracy and the famous; or

  • Not taken seriously by the Court’s and have not traditionally been enforced in divorce law in England and Wales.

The mechanisms surrounding the pre-nuptial agreement must be right in order for the document to stand up in Court. For instance, it is crucial that full financial disclosure takes place between the parties prior to a pre-nuptial agreement being drafted and entered into.

A real change came following the Court of Appeal case of Radmacher v Granatino [2010] . This case did show that if a couple is to enter into a pre-nuptial agreement, they have to follow the terms of that agreement and not then move the goal posts if and when divorce and financial proceedings do sadly come around. Therefore, if you are going to enter a pre-nuptial agreement, you should be well advised before signing as it could be difficult to back out of what you agreed pre-marriage. This case highlights two points:

  1. That pre-nuptial agreements are now taken seriously by the Court’s; and

  2. It would be dealt with on a case by case basis with the conduct of the parties having a huge influence on the Court.

By 2014 the Law Commission themselves stipulated that pre-nuptial agreements should be binding only after financial responsibilities to children and each other are met.

So what are they exactly? Simply, a pre-nuptial agreement is a contract entered into before marriage which outlines how a couple wish to divide their money and property should the marriage end in divorce.

With divorce being common in our society and the Court’s (under certain circumstances) recognising and enforcing pre-nuptial agreements, it should certainly now be at least considered prior to tying the knot. Granted, they are not the most romantic of documents but Cheryl may now wish she gave the idea of entering into one some reasonable thought.

It is always best, if you are considering having a pre-nuptial agreement drafted for you, or you are about to enter into one (that your future spouse’s solicitor has drawn up), that you seek the appropriate assistance and legal advice as the lack of proper legal advice may affect its enforceability and leave you in similar situation to Cheryl.

If you would like any further advice on this or any other Family Law matter please contact Giuseppe Pingerna, Solicitor within the Family Team on 01733 882800 or email giuseppe.pingerna@hcsolicitors.co.uk .

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This article has been prepared for general interest and information purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. While all possible care has been taken in the preparation of this article, no responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by the firm or the authors.