Published: 8 April 2015
In a follow up to last week's blog about Caroline Hopkins - the wife of a property tycoon who lost a £2 million court battle due to signing a post-nuptial agreement - Mrs Hopkins has hit back and has warned wives in a similar position not to sign a post-nuptial agreement.
Mrs Hopkins claims she was pressured into signing an unfair post-nuptial agreement, after being awarded just a small fraction of her husband's £38m fortune. She also feels that her post-nuptial agreement was nothing more than a 'fast route to a cheap divorce'.
The post-nuptial agreement stated that Mrs Hopkins was entitled to 50% of her husband's pension, their family home and an investment property worth £250,000, however Mrs Hopkins sought the much larger some of £2m in order to meet her 'reasonable needs'.
The judge ruled that Mrs Hopkins received a 'needs based reward' from the post-nuptial agreement and didn't believe that she was forced in to it, stating that she received more than adequate legal advice from a solicitor before agreeing to sign the post-nuptial agreement.
In an interview with a National newspaper, Mrs Hopkins has warned that these agreements are used by partners who are already planning for divorce and who want to heavily reduce the amount they will have to pay to their ex-partners.
Mrs Hopkins said, "To say, do not sign a post-nuptial agreement is too simplistic. But before it ever gets that far both partners should have equal advice and equal motivations."
"For those having problems within their marriage I would say; do not enter into a post-nuptial, it won't save the marriage."
"If a person is being emotionally abused they can easily be manipulated into entering a post-nuptial agreement."
"It could be a trick. Vulnerable people should be directed to something much more helpful and independent."
"Vulnerable people have likely had years of being made to feel rather worthless. They are in a poor situation to handle legal issues."
Mrs Hopkins said that she feels there should be time limits in place between the start of divorce proceedings and the signing of a post-nuptial agreement, to ensure that the two are not tied together. She also said that if a solicitor feels that one party is under pressure to sign an agreement, it is their duty to get a second opinion. She said, "Solicitors should not bypass responsibility for a vulnerable person by insisting that they sign disclaimers if they feel injustice is being done. They have a duty of care."
Many family law professionals see this as a landmark case for post-nuptial agreements as it is likely to set a precedent for how these types of cases are handled in future. Post-nuptial agreements are not common in the UK but are becoming increasingly popular as a way of protecting a partner if they come into an unexpected windfall or to help save a marriage that is on the verge of a breakdown.
If you are thinking of entering into a pre or post-nuptial agreement and require professional legal advice then K J Smith Solicitors are here to help. We have many years of experience in arranging these agreements and will always advise you on the best course of action to take for you and your family. For more information and 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) or 01256 584000 (Basingstoke) or email firstname.lastname@example.org .