New proposals for prenuptial agreements could force couples to disclose full details of their financial situation before signing any contracts.
The Law Commission, a non-political independent body set up by Parliament, has launched a consultation on the future of prenuptial agreements in the wake of a number of high profile cases.
The organisation has particularly highlighted the problems arising when an individual is unaware of the full details of the wealth of their spouse, as shown in the recent case of Radmacher v Granatino.
One proposal is to ensure a prenuptial agreement is not enforceable against a party unless the other party has fully disclosed their financial situation.
The consultation paper says: "The emphasis on disclosure of material financial information means that, for example, failure to disclose a particular asset would mean that the agreement would not be binding in relation to that asset.
"The court would therefore still be able to award ancillary relief from that asset."
While the commission believes full, unbreakable prenuptial agreements would be inappropriate for English law, it also accepts many individuals would want to protect the assets and property they bring into a marriage.
Professor Elizabeth Cooke, the Law Commissioner leading the project, says: "Some feel that where couples have reached agreement, the courts should not be involved; yet the courts' approach is primarily protective, and some feel that they should not be wholly excluded.
"Our consultation paper considers the arguments for and against reform and examines how a new approach might balance the desire of some couples to plot their own future with more certainty against the need for safeguards against exploitation and the creation of hardship.
"This is an issue that needs to be handled with care."
The consultation will run until 11 April and more details can be found here.
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