Foreign pre-marriage contracts

29 November 2011

European pre-marriage contracts are related but not identical to English prenuptial agreements, as explained by Charlotte Bradley in a previous blog titled: 'The European marriage contract - a different animal to the pre-nup?'.

The case of Z v Z has been heralded as the first reported case dealing with a foreign pre-marriage contract since the case of Radmacher and Granatino hit the headlines earlier this year. The parties in this case had entered into a pre-marriage contract in France and had then moved to England. The wife commenced divorce proceedings in England.

The Court refused to consider how the case would have been dealt with in France. However, the terms of the French “separation de biens” (separation of assets) pre-marriage contract were taken into account. Notwithstanding this, the wife received a larger award than she is likely to have received had the case been heard in France. This case underlines the importance of parties seeking legal advice as quickly as possible where other jurisdictions are involved.

This case has confirmed that the test as to whether the parties should be held to the terms of a pre-marriage contract is whether it is fair. That decision will be taken by the Court in the light of the facts specific to the case.

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