This week Angelina Jolie issued divorce proceedings against her husband Brad Pitt citing irreconcilable differences.
As UK divorce law stands, “irreconcilable differences” cannot be used as grounds for divorce. This is a legal basis for divorce in America only. Unless couples are willing to wait until they have been separated for two years, the only basis for a divorce in the UK is adultery or unreasonable behaviour.
Whist it has yet to be confirmed we would expect that the celebrity couple entered into prenuptial agreement prior to marriage.
The ‘prenup’, as it is now commonly known, will set out the terms of Pitt and Jolie’s financial separation upon their divorce and explicitly deal with the division of the assets. It is likely the terms of their settlement will be kept private. Should the ‘prenup’ exist this may circumvent Jolie and Pitt having to argue their financial matters through the courts.
Besides the greater certainty, a prenuptial agreement can give you about how your assets will be divided other benefits include the time it can save you in court, the costs it should save by reducing the time it takes for negotiation and most of all the stress it can save you from.
Where a pre-nup has been entered into freely by a couple with a full appreciation of its implications then its terms should be upheld by the court unless in the circumstances on separation that would not be fair.
A prenuptial agreement is unlikely to be able to displace claims based on one of the couple’s needs but is more likely to displace the principle that matrimonial property should be split 50-50.
It may seem unromantic, but prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are a useful form of financial planning. They allow married couples and civil partners to plan financially should their relationship breakdown.
For further information on prenuptial agreements and whether they may be suitable for you see our free Legal Advice Guide to Prenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements or call our family law solicitors on freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online.
Charlotte Percy is a family and divorce solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.