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(Family Division; Charles J; 21 December 2011)
The Italian husband and Swedish wife entered into a pre-nuptial agreement drawn up by a Swedish lawyer prior to marriage. The agreement provided that the wife had no rights over the property owned by the husband. The wife did not seek legal advice beforehand. They were married for 3 years and had two children. The husband's assets were £1.08m, earning £55,000 per annum, substantially less than before the marriage owing to redundancy, the wife had not worked during the marriage.
The judge ordered the husband to pay lump sum of £667,100 (58% of total assets including pension) and global periodical payments of £30,000 with the stipulation that the wife's household income should reach £40,000 before any income earned by her should affect maintenance award. The husband appealed.
Post Granatino, there was a need to give weight to autonomy of parties, fact of agreement can alter what is a fair award. Both parties agreed to effect of agreement, despite lack of legal advice, evidence that would have willingly entered into agreement anyway. The husband had pre-acquired assets, partly inheritance and it was a reasonably short marriage. The judge had erred in failing to give sufficient weight to the pre-nuptial agreement and the other s 25 factors which founded good reason for departure from equality in application of the sharing principle.
A Mesher order was made of 35.83% over the wife's property, including 2.5% to account for costs of the appeal.
The Red Book is the acknowledged authority on practice and procedure