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Marriage and divorce – what a business!

16 June 2006

A landmark decision by the Law Lords, giving wives much bigger divorce settlements received acres of news coverage and we won’t repeat all the detail here.

In short, Melissa Miller lived in a one-bedroom house when she met her husband, a City fund manager, for whom she gave up a career as an £85,000-a-year PR executive.

She received a £5 million award despite being married for only two years and nine months. In the second case, Julia McFarlane was entitled to £250,000 a year from her husband for an indefinite period rather than just for five years as held by the Court of Appeal.

Clearly the judgments are significant and some are even calling this the demise of marriage. In the light of the ruling, James Grigg, head of our family law department, feels we should take a more pragmatic approach. We should treat marriage and divorce no differently from going into a business partnership where we would automatically take legal and financial advice first, he advises.

Whether you are embarking on marriage or divorce, both are significant and of great consequence. It is essential to have a clear picture and be aware of all the implications before you take any irrevocable steps.

Whether or not these judgments will have any real effect beyond the tiny number of big-money cases is impossible to predict but they are likely to lead to a rise in the number of people entering into pre-nuptial agreements which, up to now, have been rather rare and unpopular in the UK.

As always, if you need pragmatic legal advice, we’re here to help so please get in touch.

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Jonathan Eager FCILEx
Senior associate
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Jonathan Eager
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