Traditional marriage laws are swept aside in landmark decision by Supreme Court

Started by slayton, Oct 23, 2010, 05:57 AM

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slayton

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Traditional marriage laws are swept aside in landmark decision by Supreme Court
By Steve Doughty and Vanessa Allen
Last updated at 9:10 AM on 21st October 2010


Judges yesterday tore up England's marriage laws to offer couples binding prenuptial contracts.

They used the test case of a German heiress worth 100million and her millionaire French  husband to bring a revolutionary change to the laws around  marriage and divorce.

Their Supreme Court ruling means that prenuptial agreements which set down a couple's divorce settlement before their wedding will have full legal status in England for the first time.

The deals will mean that brides and grooms will know they can keep their own cash and property in the event that their marriage crashes.

Only manifestly unfair contracts would be overturned by the courts.

In the case, paper industry heiress Karin Radmacher won the right to protect her fortune and hundreds of millions of pounds controlled by her family out of the hands of her former husband, a City banker turned academic.

But in the process of deciding the case, the Supreme Court judges swept away hundreds of years of legal precedent that a married couple should be together for life and their property should be shared - something enshrined in the Church of England's marriage ceremony since 1662 when the groom says: 'With all my worldly goods I thee endow.'

Prenup deals have long held influence in courts in America and Europe.

But in England the courts have rarely enforced them and judges have usually chosen to ignore them.

Miss Radmacher, 41, had fought a four-year court battle to withhold the vast majority of her fortune from her ex-husband, former investment banker Nicolas Granatino after he claimed that the contract was unfair because he had not realised the true extent of his wife's vast fortune.

Mr Granatino demanded a 9.2million pay-out and was initially given 5.5million, but that was later reduced to 1million in the Court of Appeal.

Yesterday the Supreme Court told him he will receive just 70,000 a year from his ex-wife for the next 14 years, until their youngest child turns 22.

Court President Lord Phillips said that the law cannot prevent a couple deciding how to arrange their affairs should they come to live apart and that all English courts should follow the precedent.

'In future it will be natural to infer that parties who enter into an ante-nuptial agreement to which English law is likely to be applied intend that effect should be given to it,' he said.

But the decision came only after serious division among the judges of the country's new leading court.

One Supreme Court justice, Baroness Hale, called the ruling undemocratic and damaging to marriage, and added that it was wrong that it should have been made by a court comprising eight male judges and only one woman.

In a strongly-worded statement  of dissent, Lady Hale said there were six legal reasons why the ruling  was wrong, one being that it was 'inconsistent with the continued importance attached to the status of marriage in English law'.

She said her fellow judges were treating married couples in the same way as unmarried people and added that it was 'wrong to equate married with unmarried parenthood'.

'Marriage still counts for something in the law of this country and long may it continue to do so,' she said.

Lady Hale also said the ruling was unfair to the poorer partner in a marriage - 'usually, though by no means invariably, she'.

The controversy spread outside the court, with bishops warning that the decision undermines marriage and lawyers saying that judges have usurped the rights of Parliament and elected MPs to make the law.

Brenda Long, a partner at law firm Blandy & Blandy, said: 'This ruling means the judiciary has overstepped its prescribed role of interpreting law and actually created law instead,' she said.

Mr Granatino, 39, who attended court wearing scruffy jeans and a blue jumper refused to comment after the hearing.

But Miss Radmacher, who wore a white mini-dress with a plunging neckline, said: 'I'm delighted that Britain has upheld fairness.'

Prenups are commonly recognised in countries around the world.

In the U.S. all states now recognise prenups, but some judges have opposed them because they were seen as damaging to marriage.

They are also recognised in France and Germany.

Heiress who hangs on to her millions

For heiress Katrin Radmacher, a prenuptial agreement was the ultimate test of love.

Far from being an unromantic business contract, she insisted it was the only way she could know Nicolas Granatino truly wanted her and not just her 100million fortune.

The besotted groom, an investment banker, signed the deal and insisted he did not want a penny from his fiancee, who he had met just eight months earlier.

Later, he would claim that he had somehow failed to notice that his bride-to-be was one of Europe's wealthiest women.

Mr Granatino - himself the heir to a multi-million pound fortune - said he believed the Radmacher family were 'well off'.

But their vast fortune from a paper-making empire was not 'particularly evident' to him during visits to their family home in Germany, he said.

He said: 'At the time of signing the pre-nup agreement I didn't know even broadly about her wealth.

She was renting a perfectly nice single-bedroom flat in Chelsea, and I visited the family's chalet in Verbier.'

The couple met at London's Tramp nightclub in November 1997 and married a year later.

At the time Mr Granatino was an investment banker with JP Morgan, earning more than 120,000-a-year, and boasted he would soon be a billionaire.

But after four years of marriage he told his wife he was desperate to quit his job and wanted to return to university.

He began a doctorate at Oxford University, where as an academic his annual earnings were reduced to around 30,000.

The couple, who by then had two daughters, Chiara and Chloe, began to spend more time apart and eventually separated in August 2006, after eight years.

During the ensuing High Court divorce battle, Mr Granatino asked for 9.2million, despite the pre-nup agreement.

The judge ruled that Mr Granatino was entitled to 5.5million from his ex-wife, including 2.5million for a house, 25,000 for a car and 700,000 to pay off his debts.

But the Court of Appeal later reduced the pay-out to 1million. Mr Granatino's legal team, which included Sir Paul McCartney's divorce lawyer Fiona Shackleton, said he faced financial ruin and even bankruptcy if his divorce settlement was not increased, and took the case to the Supreme Court.

But Miss Radmacher's lawyers argued he could always return to banking if he was really facing 'financial catastrophe'.

More significantly, he can also expect to inherit millions from his tax exile father Antoine Granatino, the former vice-president of computer giant IBM.

The French industrialist has an estimated 30million fortune and lives in a luxury apartment in Kensington, next to Hyde Park, with a holiday villa in Antibes.

Miss Radmacher's solicitor said the Supreme Court ruling meant she would now pay him 70,000-a-year until 2024, when their youngest daughter turns 22.

The maintenance payments are tax-free, making them the equivalent of a 130,000
annual salary.

Mr Granatino will also live rent-free in one of her multi-million pound homes in London, and will have free use of a holiday home in France.


neoteny


Only manifestly unfair contracts would be overturned by the courts.


"Manifestly unfair" is in the eye of the beholder...  :rolle:
The spreading of information about the [quantum] system through the [classical] environment is ultimately responsible for the emergence of "objective reality." 

Wojciech Hubert Zurek: Decoherence, einselection, and the quantum origins of the classical

Quentin0352

Notice they always ignored the laws and etc when it is a MAN being screwed out of his money but suddenly this changed. Of course they left the wiggle room to keep it so men are screwed even after this ruling.

Captain Courageous

Now, you really can't get married without a good lawyer or law firm. OK, what's next?!

AnubisRox

Quote
The deals will mean that brides and grooms will know they can keep their own cash and property in the event that their marriage crashes.


Who normally wants a prenup? Not brides! But yet they put them first in this sentence.
As Quentin said, the only reason why this was overturned was because an heiress was set to lose money. But we all knew that laws like this would start changing only when WOMEN stand to lose.
ell she turned me into a NEWT!! A newt?! Er..., well I got better.

Pacman7331

Well this probably would have never happened had the genders been reversed... I dunno this seems good no?

LSBeene

1)  I wonder if the tenor and tone of the article would have been the same had the genders been reversed.

2)  Judge Hale is no idiot - she's realized that many women who previously were able to ignore pre-nups are now going to be held to them. 

3)  As others have said - had this been a man, this case would probably not gone his way.

4)  Yes, this is good.

I love how it's almost picture perfect role reversal - he went from $150k (ish) a year to $40k (ish) a year to "find himself" and all that.  How many times have we seen a woman who became a wife and decides unilaterally to take some easier job that pays far less and the husband is helpless - and then he gets screwed in a divorce.

Good for the goose ......

Steven
'Watch our backs at home, we'll guard the wall over here. You can sleep safe tonight, we'll guard the door."

Isaiah 6:8
"Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

poiuyt

Question:
I wonder if the tenor and tone of the article would have been the same had the genders been reversed ?


Answer:
Quote from: SupremeCourt
Only manifestly unfair contracts would be overturned by the courts.

... Womanifestly unfair prenup contracts will not be overturned and will govern asset redistribution at all other times.

The Biscuit Queen

Yeah, that phrase bothered me for different reasons. What is manifestly unfair?   There are cases where the men don't want the women to work; if he then asks for a divorce then the women are really out in the cold. However that is difficult to prove and not the norm. It has been devistating to the majority of men who didn't say that and didn't ask for a divorce to be treated as if they did. Is manifestly unfair when she was a waitress and he has millions, that she goes back to that when divorced? (Which is not unfair at all IMO.)  Marriage as an entitlement should end with the marriage, for both parties. 

This is an important step to equitable divorce treatment, and even though it was brought on by women losing, at least it was brought on.
he Biscuit Queen
www.thebiscuitqueen.blogspot.com

There are always two extremes....the truth lies in the middle.

TheDude

#9
Oct 24, 2010, 06:37 PM Last Edit: Oct 24, 2010, 11:58 PM by TheDude

How many times have we seen a woman who became a wife and decides unilaterally to take some easier job that pays far less and the husband is helpless - and then he gets screwed in a divorce.


Yup.

And no matter what really happened in the marriage, the wife will claim in the divorce that 1) the husband "didn't want her to work" (in a lot of cases he knew she was incapable of earning anything beyond minimum wage, so she might as well pick up a little around the house; sometimes she just makes that up) or 2) he "chose" that situation (see above; in addition to just being an irritating statement from a controlling sit-at-home, it implies he can never ever ever change his mind no matter how much circumstances change; what a fucking bitch).

TheDude

#10
Oct 24, 2010, 06:43 PM Last Edit: Oct 24, 2010, 06:50 PM by TheDude
The problem today is that you have feminists saying in one breath that "everything has to be equal" - and no one dare deny that - but in the next breath, or even without taking a breath, they demand that men "man up" and "step up to the plate" and do their male duties.

In fact, you get this dichotomy from most women - I've found that "traditional women" are even worse in many cases. They just flat out want to be supported while they sit on their fat, useless asses, and they also just accept all of the "equality stuff".

Edited to add: I guess the only difference is the sequence. Feminist women demand exact equality of the sexes; after that, they know that they can get a man to pay for them (as they smirk about what suckers men are). Traditional women demand that men fulfill their traditional duties, mostly paying for them and taking over the heavy thinking about problems in life; after that, they know full well they can count on "equality" statements of their more radical sisters and men will just bow to it out of chilvarly.

The end result is the same. "Equality", except that men have to do their traditional duties.

Even men who have been used, exploited and hammered by women in life don't seem to see this. Really weird.

The Biscuit Queen

Quote
(see above; in addition to just being an irritating statement from a controlling sit-at-home, it implies he can never ever ever change his mind no matter how much circumstances change; what a fucking bitch).


Galt, I work 2 jobs and have never told my husband to do anything in his life, are you seriously calling me a controlling sit at home?!  Wow. That chip on your shoulder is denting into your brain.
he Biscuit Queen
www.thebiscuitqueen.blogspot.com

There are always two extremes....the truth lies in the middle.

poiuyt

1-www.dailymail on judicial subversion of the inheritance principle again !

Divorcee wins 4.3m of ex-husband's inheritance despite judge saying 'she did not work for it'

A divorcee was awarded 4.3million of her ex-husband's inherited fortune, despite a judge conceding that she had not worked for it.

A family court judge handed her the settlement and said it would be enough to 'generously' meet her needs, which include a house worth 1.1million and an income of 115,000-a-year.

Describing the couple's wealth as 'not the product of the endeavours' of either of them, he said it would be fair to focus on the wife's 'financial needs', rather than applying the 'sharing principle' which her lawyers had invoked to argue for an even more generous settlement.

The couple - who cannot be identified - were married for 25 years and had enjoyed a total wealth of an estimated 21-24million.

Mr Justice Moylan said that, as well as several farms and thousands of fertile acres, the husband, in his 60s, was bequeathed shares in a family company, a substantial shares portfolio and a shooting estate by his father.

The source of the family wealth was a large manufacturing business the father set up shortly after World War 2, which was floated in the 1950s and sold in the 1980s, the court heard.

During the marriage, the husband and wife lived in an 'extremely rare and valuable' home at the heart of a rural estate, surrounded by parkland and complete with a swimming pool, tennis court and ornamental lake.

And, although the husband earns about 100,000-a-year from farming, that is dwarfed by the 300,000-a-year generated by his investment portfolio.

The judge said the pair, who split in 2009, had 'enjoyed a very good standard of living', with the wife, in her 50s, describing it as 'extremely high, with no money worries and no restraints on our spending'.

Mr Justice Moylan awarded the woman a 4.3million chunk of her ex-husband's fortune despite conceding that she had not worked for it. Seeking a lump sum of 6million, on top of 1million that is already in her name, the wife's lawyers said she needed 1.5million to buy and furnish an 'appropriate' new home for herself, along with enough cash to give her an income of over 130,000-a-year.

However, her husband's lawyers said 850,000 would be enough to fund her housing needs and she should only get a lump sum of 1.4million, on top of the 1million and a small investment property he gave her in the 1990s.

The wife's lawyers argued the 'sharing principle' should be applied to the case, entitling her to a stake in her husband's inherited wealth.

But the husband said that would be an 'invasion' of a fortune he owed to his father and which was not built up during the marriage.

Mr Justice Moylan said the husband's wealth was 'non-matrimonial' and it was 'fair' to base the wife's award on a 'generous assessment' of her financial needs.

She was awarded a lump sum of 3.3million, on top of the 1million of assets already in her name.


2-www.generous judicial swine redistributing other mens resources again !

Britain's top divorce judge is divorced himself over affair with tragedy-struck barrister

A top lawyer and High Court judge was divorced by his wife today for adultery after he left her for another woman.

Sir Nicholas Mostyn, 54, was not at the brief hearing in central London where his wife Lucy was granted a decree nisi.

According to court documents from the Principal Registry of the Family Division, Sir Nicholas admitted being unfaithful.

In a separate document, Sir Nicholas - who is Britain's top divorce judge, is asked 'Do you admit the adultery alleged in the petition?' He replied: 'Yes.'

Sir Nicholas earns 172,000-a-year. He is nicknamed 'My Payout' because of the huge settlements he has won for a succession of divorced wives.

His past clients have included Sir Paul McCartney in his divorce from Heather Mills.

Pacman7331

I guess we now know where the london looters got their inspiration...

Pacman7331

Seems like after a while the souls of these women would rot so stinking bad that they would let out a stitch that caused people around them to lynch them in the streets...

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