Published: 4 September 2017
Following a ruling in the Court of Appeal, family lawyers across the UK are predicting an increase in the number of couples looking to secure a prenuptial agreement. This comes as a woman sought to receive an equal share of her and her ex-husband’s assets, but failed to do so, seeing her appeal dismissed.
Hart v Hart: Appealing a Judgement
After the ruling in Hart v Hart, Lord Justice Moylan stated that His Honour Judge Wildblood QC had made no mistake in a financial remedy order, in June 2015, when awarding £3.5million to Karen Hart, despite the couple having assets totalling almost £9.4million. It is important to note that both parties aimed to appeal the ruling by Judge Wildblood, with Mrs Hart being awarded her wish to appeal. Her former husband was not granted as much and, following a renewed application for permission to appeal, he appeared in person to put forward six grounds of appeal, all of which were dismissed by Sir James Munby.
Bringing a 23-year marriage to an end, Karen Hart’s representatives suggested that the couple had acquired their assets together during their marriage, and so any settlement should have been more reflective of an equal share. Following an unsuccessful appeal, many people, including Karen Hart and her representatives, believe that this now casts uncertainty over the law. There is a view that the ruling now allows trial judges to find that financial contribution of a spouse outweighs the domestic and family contribution made by their partner. They also believe that this ruling is set to unleash unfair results in the future, as they believe is the case within Hart v Hart.
Rise in Prenuptial Agreements anticipated
It is widely thought that pre-marriage contributions have been allocated more weight than necessary within this case and that, as a result of this ruling, it has become more important than ever to establish what assets you are in possession of, prior to the marriage. With this in mind, it is believed that there will be an increase in prenuptial agreements between couples that are looking to protect themselves from the outset.
The courts do typically devise a clear distinction between any wealth that is generated before the marriage and wealth created by one of the couple throughout the duration of the marriage. An individual that brings wealth into the marriage will almost always retain that money following a breakdown of the marriage, providing that the other member of the couple has enough to meet their needs.
If this is not the case, the court will often award a portion of the pre-marriage wealth to the weaker party, in order to meet their needs. The courts will always opt to meet the needs of the weaker party as opposed to protecting the wealth that was acquired pre-marriage, particularly to ensure that they have enough resources to be able to live. With the thought of uncertainty surrounding divorce law, family lawyers across the UK are suggesting that a big increase in the number of prenuptial agreements is likely within the near future.
If you are thinking of separation or divorce and are concerned about your financial situation then K J Smith Solicitors can help. Our team of family law specialists have handled financial matters in divorce ranging from the straightforward to the highly complex.
For more information or to arrange a free 45-minute consultation, please contact K J Smith Solicitors today on 01491 630000 (Henley on Thames), 020 7070 0330 (London), 0118 418 1000 (Reading), 01753 325000 (Windsor), 01256 584000 (Basingstoke) 01483 370100 (Guildford), 01494 629000 (Beaconsfield) or 01235 375500 (Abingdon).