A case has recently been reported in the name of Ipekci v McConnell, where it was found wholly unfair to hold the husband to the Prenuptial Agreement made under the laws of the State of New York, which he had signed 15 days prior to his marriage to the wife, a wealthy American heiress to the Avon Products business empire. The Family Court held that no weight would be contributed to the agreement.
This case may lead to many potential clients asking why they should prepare a Prenuptial Agreement if the Court can later order that no weight should be placed upon it.
Firstly, it is important to note that the Court does not currently have to be bound by a Prenuptial Agreement, but the terms of the Prenuptial Agreement are, as a minimum, a factor which the Court will take into account when considering the terms of the overall settlement.
If you are thinking about obtaining a Prenuptial Agreement to protect your assets, then you should bear in mind the following:
- The agreement needs to be fair to both parties. There should be full and frank disclosure of each party’s financial position so that each is aware of the same.
- It is good practice to finalise the agreement in good time before the wedding or civil partnership, so that it cannot later be alleged that one party felt under pressure to agree the terms of the Prenuptial Agreement. It is worth bearing in mind whether there are complex finances (for example, involving trusts or international assets) as further time may be needed and additional advice may need to be taken from an accountant or foreign lawyer.
- Both parties will need to consider any potential changes in the future. This will include the length of the marriage and whether there are any children born to the parties later. It is also worth considering potential future changes such as loss of employment or health issues.
- It is important that both parties take independent legal advice upon the terms of the agreement.
- The Prenuptial Agreement should provide for the needs of both parties.
Entering into a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement is a sensible way of dealing with matters but it is important that the Prenuptial Agreement is entered into freely and correctly in order for the Court to rely on it or place great weight on it.
If you have any queries or wish to discuss other Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements with a lawyer, please do not hesitate to contact us.