January 7, 2015

Peer makes the case for legally-binding pre-nuptial agreements

Baroness Deech, who chairs the Bar Standards Board, is at present attempting to push a private members’ bill through the House of Lords, which would make pre and post-nuptial agreements legally binding.

If the legislation took effect it would change the way that property is divided in many divorce cases and could lead to assets acquired before a marriage being disregarded in any financial settlement.

The Baroness has argued that the Divorce (Financial Provision) Bill would make the laws which govern separation “simpler, more certain and democratic”.

The idea of making pre and post-nuptial agreements legally binding also received backing from the Law Commission last year, although the body conceded that the needs of the separating couple and any children would still need to be taken into account.

While there are many supporters of reform, Baroness Deech did split opinion with comments a few days ago about why she thought the existing system needed to be overhauled.

In an interview with the Financial Times, the cross bench peer claimed that current laws sent the message to women that they didn’t need to build their own career so long as they married a wealthy husband.

She was referring to the fact that at present the starting point for splitting assets in UK courts was 50/50.

Responding to the comments, newspaper columnist Janet Street-Porter – who has herself been divorced four times - argued that most women wanted to make the most of life on their own terms.

“Our divorce laws urgently need reforming, but I hardly think most young women leave school and put ‘marrying a Premier League player or an oligarch’ down as their goal in life.”

To find out more about the family services we provide, please contact Patrick Hart from our Family Law team today.

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