Marriage laws in the England and Wales are set for a radical reform which will enable couples to sign a legally binding pre-nuptial agreement for the first time.
The deals which allow individuals to choose how to divide their assets both during their marriage and in the event of a divorce have become entrenched in the legal systems of the United States and much of Europe. In the UK, however, they are viewed with caution and those that are drawn up are not likely to be honoured in court.
Traditionally every effort was made to divide assets equally following the dissolution of a marriage but, as more couples fight to retain their own property, money and investment, a re-evaluation of the law was needed.
In October the Supreme Court set a precedent for the contracts to be enforceable under British law when the verdict went in favour of German heiress Katrin Radmacher who defended her £106 million fortune after her split from husband Nicolas Granatino.
The government are consulting with legal advisors as they look into the possibility of making the change. As well as pre-nuptial agreements implementation of the post-nup, which covers assets obtained over the course of the marriage, would also be explored. The Ministry of Justice are waiting to hear the verdict of the independent Law Commission before they take their stance on the matter.
Critics of this move believe that it will irreversibly damage the institution of marriage and would demand safeguards against abuse and to protect children and vulnerable spouses.