The recent case of Z v Z involved a wealthy French couple who married in 1994 and moved to London in 2007. Shortly prior to their marriage they entered into a marriage contract in France regulating their financial affairs. Such contracts are common and enforceable in France. The agreement excluded the sharing of property, and the husband argued that the wife should be held to it, and that the payment to her should be defined by her needs. The wife argued that the agreement should not stand and that the assets should be shared equally between them. Although neither party had proper legal advice on the document, and nor was there full financial disclosure, the Mr Justice Moor held that this did not matter. Both parties were highly intelligent, were fully aware of the financial position of the other, and entered into the agreement freely and with full understanding of the implications. In upholding the agreement, the Judge made it clear that the situation may have have been different if it had excluded maintenance for the wife. As it did not, he considered that it was fair to uphold the agreement. His assessment of the wife’s needs, generously interpreted, to include housing needs, costs and a sum to represent capitalised maintenance amounted to £6,003,087 – 40% of the overall assets of £15 million.
Divorce and Family Law Sarah Jackson