'Unromantic’ Outlook On Pre-Nups Ignores True Value Of Agreements

Comedian's Views On Financial Agreements 'Not Uncommon', Expert Outlines

14.08.2012

A family law expert has called on people who share the same view as John Cleese that pre-nuptial agreements are “not romantic” still to consider the enormous benefits that such a document could offer in the long term.

Jennifer Wade – the fourth of wife of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers star Cleese – has revealed in an interview with Hello! that the comedian initially dismissed the idea of a pre-nuptial agreement, even though he was forced to pay out significant sums during his previous three divorces.

However, it was revealed that he then changed his mind when a lawyer revealed that without one his new wife would not be “properly looked after” under legislation in Monaco, where the couple now live.

Miss Wade, who married Cleese in Mustique a fortnight ago, added in the interview that she wanted the public to know she had no intention of taking the comedian “to the cleaners”.

Alison Hawes, a Partner and expert in family law at Irwin Mitchell, said the view that pre-marital agreements are unromantic is one of the most cited reasons why people do not consider them, but warned that the consequences of not doing so can be great.

She said: “It is very understandable that, at a time when couples are thinking about wedding plans and the prospect of a fantastic future together, the idea of signing an agreement to put provisions in place if something goes wrong is often disregarded.

“However, we have for a long time encouraged people to view pre-nups as an important part of financial planning before getting married. Put simply, addressing such issues before tying the knot can help people to remove any uncertainty which may arise in the long term and could in some circumstances increase the trust between both parties.

“Without an agreement, couples could end up facing a long and potentially costly legal battle over possessions and assets – something which often only ends up placing more strain on couples and their loved ones at an already-emotional time.”

Alison added that these latest reports also act as a reminder of another issue which surrounds the concept of pre-nups.

She said: “We only tend to see the arguments surrounding these agreements hit the headlines when it involves the rich and famous, which only serves to promote the misconception that such documents are only for celebrities.

“Pre-marital agreements remain incredibly useful for those from modest backgrounds as well, and this should not be forgotten.”