Judicial support for pre-nuptial agreements continues

In the recent High Court case of V v V [2011] EWHC 3230 (Fam), the Husband appealed the decision of the District Judge on the financial settlement following their divorce. The High Court allowed the appeal on the basis that insufficient weight had been attached to the pre-nuptial agreement which the couple had entered into. The purpose of that agreement was to enable the Husband to retain property, worth approximately £1 million at the time of the agreement, that he had acquired prior to the marriage.

It was held that, following the case of Granatino v Radmacher, due regard must be given to the parties’ autonomy and an agreement entered into freely and willingly should be given appropriate weight. There was evidence that both the Husband and the Wife had entered into the pre-nuptial agreement intending it to be effective. The agreement proved to be a good reason to depart from equality. Charles J said that the existence of such an agreement is “”a factor to which appropriate weight should be given in determining how the needs of the payee spouse and any children are to be funded by a combination of an award of capital, periodical payments, pension sharing””. This case was one where the settlement was dictated by the needs of the parties and the children, and it was held that the Husband should have a charge back against the Wife’s new home. This meant that he would retain an interest of one third in that property, plus a percentage to reflect his costs, to be realised at a later date.