On seeing the recent announcement, Vanessa Friend, family law solicitor commented: “After 27 years of marriage and a successful business partnership, Bill and Melinda Gates appear to be separating on an amicable basis. Their joint statement speaks volumes about their approach to divorce. They are presenting a unified front in the face of their separation. The couple have reportedly already agreed the division of their marital assets. Apparently, they filed a separation agreement at court with the divorce papers, which sets out their financial settlement. They did not file a prenuptial agreement, although they may have signed one, which they are implementing. Prenuptial agreements are common fare in America amongst the super wealthy.”
A prenuptial agreement is a contract signed by a couple before their marriage or civil partnership setting out how the finances will be resolved on divorce or separation. In England they are likely to be upheld by the court if they are properly prepared. They are frequently used to protect one party’s pre-marital wealth or expected inheritance.
Prenuptial agreements encourage couples to be honest about their financial circumstances before getting married. They also help remove a lot of the uncertainty and stress at the end of the marriage. They can be used by wealthy couples, but also those with more modest assets. For example, a young couple where one party has already purchased a property with help from the Bank of Mum and Dad.
Vanessa Friend is a partner at Hodge Jones & Allen and a highly experienced family law solicitor. Her work includes the preparation of prenuptial agreements across many jurisdictions including Europe and America.