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21 November 2017

Pre-nups – What Not to Do

Kristi Foale

Partner

We don’t often talk about (boring) legal cases, but this one’s an exception.  Yesterday, the High Court of Australia handed down the decision of Thorne & Kennedy. It’s a family law matter that looks at the validity of a pre-nup (financial) agreement, when one party, the financially weaker party,  is significantly pressured into signing up, for the protection of the financially stronger party days before their extravagant wedding.

In short, a lady from Europe with no significant assets to her name, married a multimillionaire property developer in Australia. Following their meeting online and whirl wind romance full of international travel and luxury;  sadly, it wasn’t to be. Following separation, the wife wanted to set the pre-nup aside, the husband wanted to have it remain in full force and ensure his 18 to 24 million was left to his adult children.

After two appeals, the High Court has dealt with the matter and set aside the pre-nup on the basis of significant undue influence (unreasonable pressure) to sign up to a pre-nup only days before the wedding, with the threatened consequence of the wedding being cancelled and her prompt return to Eastern Europe.  So many perspectives. So many legal concepts, but most of all a fascinating read, a case that has it all.

The key to pre-nups is, keep them simple, clear, and don’t attach any rewards or consequences….and never do them within a sniff of an upcoming wedding.

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