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Pre-nuptial for Sir Paul McCartney and Nancy Shevell - yeah, yeah, yeah? Vikram Kumar discusses

I note that Sir Paul McCartney married American heiress Nancy Shevell in London this week. Whilst I along with other fans wish him well, I have to confess I also couldn’t help but wonder if Sir Paul had considered protecting his assets following his previous acrimonious divorce settlement with Heather Mills.

The simplest way for him to protect his assets would be to enter into a pre-nuptial agreement or pre-nup as it is more commonly abbreviated. This is a contract entered into prior to marriage, civil union or any other agreement. The content of a pre-nuptial agreement can vary widely, but commonly includes provisions for division of property and spousal support in the event of divorce or breakup of marriage. They may also include terms for the forfeiture of assets as a result of divorce on the grounds of adultery;further conditions of guardianship may be included as well.

Pre-nups have long been used in many countries, most commonly in the United States of America but also in a number of European countries. The situation in the UK is that pre-nups have not historically been considered as legally valid in England. However in the recent case of Radmacher in the Supreme Court, the Court indicated that such agreements can have decisive weight in a divorce settlement. Accordingly, the Court would be likely to uphold such an agreement provided that the agreement did not cause significant injustice to one or both parties or a child of the family.

It may be that given both Sir Paul and Ms Shevell have been married before and have access to substantial fortunes in their own right that they both took the view that such an agreement was not required as there is a minimal risk of them making a claim against each other.

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