Prenuptial Marital Agreements

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This essay highlights the aspect of prenuptial marital agreements. A pre-nuptial agreement is an contract made by a couple before they get married or enter into a civil partnership, which assorts how they desire their assets to be shared if they should divorce or have their civil partnership dissolved. Such agreements are divided into three categories.

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First are the Pre-nuptial agreements which are made before marriage. Second are the post-nuptial agreements which are similar to pre-nuptial agreements but would be prepared after marriage or civil partnership. Lastly, we have the separation agreements and these are made after separation and in expectation of a forthcoming divorce or dissolution. This piece aims to review how the law has adopted changes over the time period. It will analyse the developments and any recommendations that can be pondered over will be discussed. Pre-nuptial agreements are legally binding in numerous countries including the United States of America and Australia. However, they are not automatically enforceable in courts in England and Wales. In a landmark ruling in the case of Radmacher v Granatino the Supreme Court said “that courts should give effect to a pre-nuptial agreement that is freely entered into by each party with a full appreciation of its implications, unless in the circumstances prevailing it would not be fair to hold the parties to their agreement”.[1] The essay revolves around this case and leading scenarios. A couple may decide between themselves how to split their possessions on divorce. They will often seek legal advice and the awareness that courts will more or less make the same decision if the matter was to be presented in front of them. Their contract will be then approved by court. When this is not possible such as where dispute between parties arise, an application for ancillary relief will be decided by the court. Financial provision might be granted to either party to the marriage, subject to the facts of the individual case as every case has different circumstances. According to the section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, the court has very extensive discretion concerning the division of assets on divorce however the court must acknowledge all the related circumstances of the case, importance should be given to the welfare of a minor which is of any child of the family who has not reached the age of eighteen. The court must also deliberate whether it is likely to make a “clean break”.[2] Similarly in the case of a civil partnership, The Civil Partnership Act 2004 s.5 (5) sets out related requirements in relation to financial provision applications on dissolution of a civil partnership.[3] The essay will tend to look at the law before the impact of Radmacher v Granatino. The courts have believed what could be labelled as a paternal attitude to the granting of ancillary relief ondivorce.

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