If you have ever regretted not getting a pre-nup, there may be a solution: the post-nuptial agreement offers the same protection of assets, but can be signed well after the wedding.
However, there is a darker element to the post-nup. While pre-nups may be common, especially among couples where one partner is substantially wealthier, post-nups are not yet standard practice. This means that if your partner suggests a post-nup, there is a much higher chance that he or she has already considered divorce.
Marilyn Stowe told The Telegraph, “In some cases, may be a trap by one side to obtain a lower settlement.”
One partner (usually the one with more financial assets) may suggest a post-nup as a way to salvage a rocky marriage, or to ensure an amicable split if a divorce were to occur. The other partner, already under considerable stress because of their marital issues, would agree in a last-ditch effort to save the marriage.
In some cases, the partner proposing the post-nup has no intentions of saving the marriage. He or she simply wishes to protect their assets before the inevitable divorce. Stowe calls this what a “savvy spouse” would do instead of trying to conceal assets before a split.
Last year William Hopkins, a property tycoon, encouraged his wife to sign a post-nuptial agreement. It entitled her to a share of his pension, two properties and a car, while Mr Hopkins was worth over £38 million.
Mrs Hopkins signed the agreement against the advice of legal counsel, saying that she wished to maintain a good relationship with her husband for the sake of their son.
After Mr Hopkins requested a divorce, Mrs Hopkins challenged the post-nup, claiming that she had been “bullied” into signing it. She requested a further £2 million.
Mr Hopkins offered his ex-wife a tenth of that sum, leading to a legal battle costing the couple nearly £760,000. The judge ruled that Mrs Hopkins had not been bullied, stating, “I reject the wife’s case that she was operating under any undue influence, duress or improper pressure when she entered into the post-nuptial settlement.”
The Hopkins’ tale serves as a warning to those considering a post-nuptial agreement, which may simply be an agreement to forfeit what one is due when divorce looms.
Read more about our top lawyers for post-nuptial agreements and how they cater for HNW and UHNW individuals.