The role of “pre-nups” in overseas divorce

In many countries, the financial disputes arising from divorce can be subject to very severe laws unless a prenuptial agreement or “pre-nup” has been made. The UK is also renowned for being particularly munificent when it comes to ordering maintenance payments. Unlike many overseas divorce courts, UK courts tend not to strictly apportion finances by for example, redirecting a percentage of the husbands earnings to the wife.

Most countries in Europe and large areas of North America consider pre-nups to be binding contracts made between adults which should be recognised by law unless one or both parties was forced into the agreement or did not receive legal advice. Famously, UK courts have not had the same respect for these agreements and have developed a reputation for ignoring the terms of pre-nups. However, the 2010 Radmacher ruling in the Supreme Court, in which it was ruled that a German heiress did not need to pay her French husband any more than the terms laid out in a prenuptial agreement.

A good example of how anomalous the UK and Ireland are for their refusal to recognise pre-nups as conventional contracts is that Malta, which doesn’t even grant divorces, still accepts agreements regarding shared property.

It must also be remembered that when making a financial order, it’s scope will generally only extend to the jurisdiction in which the order was made, meaning that overseas assets may be unaffected.

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