Marital Agreements

Yet again we have a Government that is not prepared to make the law clear. Last year the judges tried to make the law clear but made a hash of it. Only one of the judges in the Supreme Court was a family lawyer, and that judge did not agree with the majority Supreme Court judgment.

The judgment stated that the Court should have an element of discretion but by and large, these agreements should stand – whether or not either person was under pressure (probably just before the marriage), or had had legal advice, or there had been financial disclosure, or whether they subsequently had children.

We are happy to do pre-nuptial agreements where for example two people both previously married have children, perhaps one is better off than the other, and they want to make sure that finances do not undermine the structure of the marriage.

However, there are the cases where one of the two holds the money and wants to protect it. In some senses that is understandable. But this is not a true marriage. In circumstances such as this it will often bring out the worst of emotions.

Once again, the situation has been created by London judges who act for the very wealthy. They have awarded ridiculous sums to women who have married wealthy men, only for it to last two or three years. It has been called the gold diggers’ charter. And there are gold diggers out there, circling football players and bankers.

The problem has arisen because of the judges’ archaic mindset. It has resulted in a syndrome — tag a high flyer, marry him, divorce just three or four years later and you are made for life.

The Football Association actually advises footballers not to get married, as do City banks to their high flyers.

So these prenups are often tinged with mistrust, suspicion and emotions which simply should not be present before a marriage.

In short it is probably the most highly charged of an already highly charged area of the law. If marriages are created in these circumstances and go wrong then a target for blame will be the solicitor who drew up the agreement. This is the area where there is the highest incidence of negligence in family law.

In other words, if anybody gives you a low quote they are almost certainly inexperienced, and possibly dangerously so.

This firm would certainly be prepared to give a free initial half-hour, just to establish whether we would be prepared to take the matter on.