The Law Commission has called for pre-nuptial agreements to be made legally binding in England and Wales. This recommendation follows a three year consultation by the Law Commission, which has looked at ways to reduce the number of divorces which result in lengthy and expensive legal proceedings.
As the current law stands, pre-nuptial agreements are not legally binding, but following a landmark case in 2010 the courts can now take into consideration the contents of a pre-nuptial agreement, provided the agreement had been entered into freely and where it would not be unfair to implement. While this case represents a step forward in terms of judicial approach to pre-nuptial agreements, it has also left a large amount of uncertainty for parties to a pre-nuptial agreement.
It is hoped that the new proposals, which include a draft Bill, will clarify the current approach by building in safeguards that will ensure that one spouse is not left in a disadvantaged position and will include reforms to include, that maintenance should be payable only for a limited period. The proposals will also recommend that both parties to a pre-nuptial agreement obtain independent legal advice.
The much awaited report is due to be published this month and is hoped to help reduce the amount of court time occupied by divorce proceedings and also to provide couples with far greater clarity of their legal positions at the outset of their marriages.
If you would like more information about pre-nuptial agreements, divorce proceedings or any related matter please contact us.