Wife of a property developer held to a post-nuptial agreement
In a recent case, the High Court ruled that a post-nuptial agreement signed by a wife at the request of her husband was binding.
The Judge said that "she would have to live with the post-nup as she had signed it of her own free will having received copious volumes of legal advice".
Caroline Hopkins had married a wealthy property developer in April 2009 although they had known each other for many years before that. The marriage broke down and in August 2011, Mrs Hopkins signed a post-nuptial agreement in which she would acquire two properties and a car plus £75,000 in full and final settlement of any future claims. Although she was advised by her lawyers not to sign the agreement, Mrs Hopkins said that she was quite happy with its terms and duly signed. Some months later, Mrs Hopkins challenged the terms of the post-nuptial agreement and claimed that she had been put under undue pressure and had been exploited. Unfortunately for Mrs Hopkins, the Judge rejected her claims and decided that Mrs Hopkins had signed the agreement freely and with full advice and understood that the agreement was a watertight and binding agreement. The post-nuptial agreement was therefore upheld.
Post-nuptial agreements, like pre-nuptial agreements, can be legally binding.
Post-nuptial agreements do therefore have a significant role to play in asset protection and wealth preservation but it is clear that a party should not be forced into signing any such agreement particularly at a time when emotions are running high.
Marie Louise Hamilton comments "This case is good news as couples need to be able to rely on the agreement."
"A post-nuptial, pre-nuptial or co-habitation agreement where both parties take independent legal advice are not something that parties should sign up to unless they want to be bound by the terms."
If you would like advice on the matters covered by this article, please contact Marie-Louise Hamilton or any member of the Wrigleys' Private Client team on 0113 244 6100.
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The information in this article is necessarily of a general nature. Specific advice should be sought for specific situations. If you have any queries or need any legal advice please feel free to contact Wrigleys Solicitors