Law lords back 'post-nuptial' divorce settlements

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The Independent Online

England's highest judges have given rich people who marry someone poorer a way to avoid an expensive divorce. In future, husbands will be urged to wait until after the honeymoon to negotiate a "post-nuptial" deal. If it is signed without pressure and with legal advice, judges will treat it as binding.

Legal history was made when the House of Lords ruled in the case of Roderick and Marcia Macleod, who married in 1991, when he was a multimillionaire property developer, aged 49, and she was a 27-year-old student.

They signed post-nuptial deal in which Mr Macleod promised a lump sum of £1m and to provide for their children. After the marriage collapsed she demanded £5.5m. He insisted they stick to the 2002 deal but agreed she needed a house for her and their sons.

Yesterday's judgment by Baroness Hale of Richmond, supported by four senior judges, said Mrs Macleod was not entitled to a house because the post-nuptial deal did not promise one. Frances Hughes, of the family lawyers Hughes Fowler Carruthers, called it "a clear way for those wishing to contract out of the English divorce system".