Currently, judges in divorce cases can take pre-nups into consideration when deciding a settlement, but they can also ignore them if they like.
Pre-nups could soon become common, especially among couples where one or both are wealthy. There could also be post-nups, which are sometimes drawn up when a spouse becomes wealthy through inheritance or the like after the marriage has taken place.
Pre-nups have been an issue in some high-profile divorce cases. Last year German heiress Katrin Radmacher, who is worth £100 million, won a court battle against her ex-husband Nicolas Granatino over their pre-nup. It had been drawn up before their marriage in 1998 and his lawyers said the courts should ignore it. He had been given £5 million when they divorced, but demanded twice that. The Supreme Court decided that the contract should stand and reduced the amount Granatino received to a tiny £1 million.
The government has told the Law Commission to create a proper law concerning pre-nups.
Many high-profile divorces would never have come to court if a pre-nup had been signed. If Paul McCartney and Heather Mills (pictured above) had drawn one up, perhaps she would not have walked away with £24 million of his cash.
In America, pre-nups are quite common and can often contain surprising clauses. They have included the right to conduct regular drug tests on the spouse, with fines for failure; one spouse having a maximum of a single football game on a Sunday per season; a $100,000 fine for each time the spouse was unfaithful; and an agreed maximum weight for the wife of 120lbs, with a $100,000 penalty if it went above that.
When actors Denise Richards and Charlie Sheen married, it was reported that they had signed a pre-nup with a $4m penalty for extra-marital affairs, to be paid by the unfaithful spouse.
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