Prenuptial agreements have been increasing in popularity for some time, but thanks to the increasing weight given to them in the courts and the rise in ultra high net worth individuals moving to London, postnups appear to be the current plat du jour.
In today’s society we are all now capable of deciding how our own relationships work for us; postnups allow us to do the same in the event of fallout. Postnups can cover almost anything, from finances to confidentiality clauses, as well as in which jurisdiction the couple might divorce should their relationship break down. The option to decide as to how a couple’s affairs will be arranged in the event of separation takes some of the power away from the state, giving it back to the couple themselves.
A postnup, or postnuptial agreement, is a legal contract between two spouses whereby they set out what would happen to their assets should their marriage come to an end. While pre and postnuptial agreements are not strictly binding in England and Wales, the courts ruled in the landmark case Radmacher v Granatino, that where the parties enter freely into an prenuptial agreement, the court shall give weight to the agreement unless it would be unfair to do so. Postnuptial agreements have also been given effect to in the courts of England and Wales. In 2015, a property tycoon gave his ex-wife just £200,000 of his pot of £38 million as a result of what they had agreed in their postnup. The judge held that she has signed the agreement of her own free will and had received legal advice before doing so, as such, she would have to live with the outcome. According to Harper’s Bazaar, celebrity couples rumoured to have signed postnups include Heidi Klum and Seal, and Beyoncé and Jay Z.
Couples may decide to enter into such an agreement for a variety of reasons. As such, postnups allow individuals to further define their relationship and keep finances separate to their romantic married life. Some couples simply run out of time before their wedding to sign a prenup, and some experience a change in circumstances during their marriage which might render a postnup necessary. Somewhat unfortunately, postnups are sometimes associated with infidelity, where the wrongdoing partner is told that they can save their marriage on the condition they sign a prenup, largely on the terms of the aggrieved partner. In these circumstances a prenup may act to save a marriage by shifting power and acting as some form of relationship insurance. Other couples enter into a postnup largely due to the fact that London is the divorce capital of the world, one where the role of the homemaker is frequently awarded the same weight as that of the breadwinner. Ultra high net worth individuals moving to London, aware of the high divorce awards seen here, are now seeking formal marital agreements before relocating their families in order to protect their wealth should their spouse then choose to file for divorce in England, as opposed to Dubai or Germany, for example.
Postnups may seem far from romantic and to be made solely in anticipation of a relationship breakdown. However, we now live in a world where people are becoming more inclined to view relationships as something to be enjoyed rather than endured. We accept that certain obstacles and changes in circumstances may result in a relationship simply running its course. Postnups are capable of laying out the concept of marriage to a particular couple, helping spouses to reassess what it is their marriage means to them. Whether you consider them to be the first step of a divorce, or sensible insurance, postnuptial agreements are becoming more commonplace in our society and if well advised, postnups are ultimately a tool which a couple can use and shape to be most beneficial to their marriage.
Thea – Vardags
The firm has a presence in five of the UK’s most prestigious cities: in the City of London overlooking St Paul’s, in the historic Cathedral streets of Winchester, in the stately heart of Manchester, in the bustling city centre of Newcastle, and in the intellectually-charged streets of Cambridge.