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Relationship Agreements

Ensuring a successful outcome

It used to be the position in England that nothing agreed between a couple could have any impact on the outcome of family court proceedings.  Often such agreements were given no weight whatsoever.

However, thanks to a series of cases leading up to a 2010 Supreme Court decision (Radmacher in October 2010), English law has now developed so that premarital agreements, marital agreements and other family law agreements are given substantial weight.  Quite possibly the terms of an agreement will be followed into an order of the court.

Key points to bear in mind are:

  • It is important to show that both parties fully understood the implications of entering into an agreement and that it was fair at the time it was entered into and at the time it is enforced, often a time of divorce.
  • Although it is not essential that there should have been independent legal advice and disclosure, this is invariably important to ensure that it is fair and that the parties understood the implications.
  • The choice of forum, the country where proceedings will take place, can be very important.

We deal with many cases involving marital agreements entered into abroad and we are very conscious of the different, often lesser, requirements for agreements in many countries.

Although prenuptial agreements have not yet fully entered into English culture, an increasing number of couples are asking for such agreements and we have extensive experience in preparing them for both UK-based and international families.

 

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Guidance

Gender duress in marital agreements: an Australian case study

Marital agreements are not yet part of English cultural life. But undoubtedly family lawyers are now being increasingly asked to draft them. For many of us, our continued anxiety and worry is the pressure put on the financially weaker party, often although not always the wife, to enter into an agreement which is less good than relying on the law. Sometimes it can be very disadvantageous.

DB v PB: Unfair marital agreements, chaos of EU law and unusual routes to fairness

David Hodson OBE 

iGuide: Prenuptial and Other Relationship Agreements

Many people choose to enter into agreements to record understandings between them and their partner or spouse. This iGuide explains more about those agreements.

FAQ: Relationship Agreements

Frequently asked questions ­about Relationship Agreements

Practical Aspects of Marital Agreements in England with an International Element

David Hodson's paper on the practical aspects of marital agreements with an international dimension and spoke on how solicitors should deal with these cases and especially the very real problems when recommending a party not to sign.

Radmacher v Granatino: judicial status of pre-marriage agreements

David Hodson explains the important Court of Appeal decision of Radmacher, giving much greater importance under English law to pre-marriage and other domestic agreements including when it would have been binding on the couple in their own home countries

iGuide: Resolution by Out of Court Settlements

There are many different ways to resolve cases without the need to go to court. Here is our iGuide in relation to out of court settlements.