MN v AN [2023] EWHC 613 (Fam)10 March 2023

Published: 27/03/2023 09:00

Moor J. H’s application that W show cause why she should not be held to the terms of a 2005 (pre-Radmacher) prenuptial agreement. H’s premarital assets £32.5 million and W’s £62,000. Negotiations through leading solicitors resulted in agreement that H pay W £500,000 for each year of marriage, capped at £12.5 million, and after 8 years or the birth of children she would also receive half the value of their London property. Alternatively, she would receive 50% increase in value of H’s assets during the marriage, if greater, but capped at 42% of H’s wealth. H to also pay child maintenance, school fees, and medical expenses.

H gave notice of intention to divorce in September 2019 and under the PNA this was the deadline for computation of the financial provision under the PNA. H sought to rely on terms of PNA, which would give W £7 million Duxbury plus £4.75 million for housing. W applied for financial remedies well beyond that provided for in the PNA, and H applied to show cause. Parties had an unsuccessful private FDR before Lord Wilson.

Per Moor J:

No shred of evidence to support W’s claims of coercive control. Conduct not relevant and following Miller/McFarlane, fitting conduct into ‘all the circumstances’ was not permitted.

Useful discussion of the guidance given in Radmacher and how it has been applied subsequently. Parties represented by ‘first class’ solicitors who took their roles seriously. The deal was within the bracket of reasonable deals and W would have received half the matrimonial acquest had that been greater so sharing was not ignored. W was under pressure but not undue pressure, there was full disclosure, and the fact there would have been no marriage without a PNA was not a vitiating factor by itself – in any case, save the date invitations had not been sent out until after agreement was reached. Changes worked both ways and neither capitulated to the other. Although pre-Radmacher, W was advised to treat agreement as binding. No vitiating factors and no other factors reducing its weight.

After undertaking Brack v Brack [2018] EWCA Civ 2862 exercise, Moor J concludes that while absent a PNA the award might have been more generous, the PNA was not unfair and met W’s needs. Her spending did not have to remain at the exceptionally high marital level and she had the flexibility to downsize later in life. W was held to the PNA, save that she had six months to vacate FMH. H to discharge W’s litigation loan with any costs arguments to be made later.

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