I’m sure most of you non-Brits have heard of Paul McCartney. It’s also probably common knowledge that he’s in the process of finalising his divorce from his second wife, Heather Mills.
Much has been made here of her claims to a substantial sum of money, and she has eventually been awarded £24 million (plus child support). A conservative estimate would give him a fortune more than 15 times this figure, most of which he almost certainly accumulated before meeting Heather Mills.
I read something somewhere, either on another blog, or a forum post expressing surprise (and some disbelief) that McCartney didn’t have a pre-nuptial agreement. The lack of a pre-nup didn’t surprise me at all – they aren’t legally enforceable in the UK.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t have one, and it doesn’t mean that it’s not worth the paper it’s written on. In a divorce case the ruling judge is likely to take any pre-nuptial agreement into account as a statement of what the couple intended to happen in the event of a divorce.
If the couple’s relative financial circumstances have changed little since then, it’s presumably likely that the provisions in the pre-nup will be followed. On the other hand, if things have changed for the couple, and the current state of affairs wasn’t covered by the pre-nup, I imagine there’s less chance that it will be followed strictly. In either case, the judge has the freedom to ignore the pre-nup if appropriate.
There are some calls to make pre-nups legally enforceable, but as things stand, if you want one you should be aware that in the UK at least just because you’ve written one doesn’t mean that it will happen. Given the way the Mills and McCarney saga has gone, I don’t think it would have been any less painful and drawn out if there had been a pre-nuptial agreement anyway.
- you can’t help people if they won’t help themselves
- ending relationships and personal finance
- husbands and wives – debts, taxes and responsibility