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  Solicitors Bude Cornwall   Pre-Nuptial Agreements Update - 01 Jul 2009 Holsworthy Solicitors


Not that long ago in an article regarding pre-nuptial agreements,
  we commented how a year can be a short time in the law.  By way of recap, in 2007 the Court of Appeal in Crossly v Crossly stated that a Judge had a discretionary power in financial proceedings to require a party to show good cause why a prenuptial agreement should not take precedence when the parties separated. 
 
Then in 2008, in MacLeod v MacLeod, the  Privy Council (the highest appeal Court for UK overseas territories, the parties being in the Isle of Man!) considered that an agreement entered into before marriage was not binding although an agreement entered into after the marriage but before separation could be binding on the parties.
 
Now, relatively hot on the heels of the MacLeod case we have further judicial comment on this fast changing area of law.  The Court of Appeal has considered the issue further in the case of Radmacher v Granatino.
 
Both foreigners, Ms Radmacher and Mr Granatino met in London in 1997 and married the following year.  Before marrying they entered into a pre-nuptial agreement which provided that neither would have interest in or claim on whatever the other brought into the marriage. 
A few months after they entered into this agreement the parties married in 1998.  They separated in 2006.  During the intervening period, Ms Radmacher had received substantial funds from her father. 
 
During the course of the couple’s divorce, Mr Granatino sought to make a claim for financial provision from his wealthy ex-wife and he argued that the pre-nuptial was not valid.  When the pre-nuptial agreement had been concluded, Ms Radmacher had not disclosed the extent of her family’s significant wealth or that she expected to receive substantial gifts from her father. 
 
The Court of Appeal stated that Mr Granatino had the opportunity to obtain independent legal advice about the agreement but he chose not to do so and was therefore unable to rely on the lack of advice over the agreement.  Although Ms Radmacher had not specifically disclosed the extent of her family’s wealth, Mr Granatino was aware of it.  He was also aware of the nature of the pre-nuptial agreement and that it would prevent him from bringing any financial claims.
 
In MacLeod v MacLeod the Privy Council had sought to distinguish between pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreements but the Court of Appeal did not consider there was a significant difference.  The Court of Appeal considered that whilst neither agreement can be strictly binding, such an agreement is likely to be considered as significant to the parties positions. 
 
Therefore, although still not a matter of public policy, it should be possible to protect pre-marital wealth by way of a pre-nuptial agreement. Despite the particular circumstances in Radmacher v Granatino, to ensure the agreement is as binding as it can be the parties should ensure that they each provide full disclosure of finances, both at the time and any anticipated wealth (eg a substantial inheritance) and each should have their own independent legal advice.If you need advice on a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement or any other family or children matter we at Paul Finn Solicitors will be pleased to provide you with expert and experienced support. You can contact Martin Curnow (Head of Litigation) or Paul Finn (member of the Law Society Family Law Panel) easily on 01288 356 256, by email to CurnowM@FinnLaw.co.uk  and FinnP@FinnLaw.co.uk, or just call in to our office and ask for an appointment.  We promise we will always be understanding and helpful.

Martin Curnow
Head of Litigation, Paul Finn Solicitors
Tel: 01288 356 256
Email: CurnowM@FinnLaw.co.uk
 
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