The Daily Mail Online reviewed this question in a recent article. A family law firm in Great Britain that analyzed the evidence believes that they do.
A premarital agreement, or prenup, is a legal document prepared in advance of a couple’s marriage. When properly prepared, they are generally considered to be effective tools to reduce the cost and acrimony of a marriage that ends in divorce. Many people, not just the super-wealthy, can benefit from a prenup. Although some people feel that asking for a prenup is a sign that one does not trust their partner, a full disclosure of assets on both sides is required for a prenup to be valid. It makes some sense to come to an agreement while you still like your partner, rather than after you decide you don’t.
A so-called “loyalty clause” is a provision in the prenup that ties the amount of money and/or property a spouse receives upon divorce to the length of the marriage. These rewards often escalate after a specific number of years has elapsed.
If the judge accepts that the agreement is fair, British courts have been allowed to recognize prenups since 2010, when their Supreme Court enforced a prenup designed to protect the fortune of German heiress Katrin Radmacher. Since the length of a marriage is one factor the court would consider when it divides a parties’ assets, loyalty clauses are generally approved. Although not usually referred to by that name, such clauses are common in prenups prepared in Nevada as well.
Prenups became common among marrying couples in Britain after 2010. The divorce rate in that country had been on a downward trend from 2003 to 2015, but rose by 7% in 2016. One report suggests that prenups with loyalty clauses are at least partially to blame.
The spouse that stands to benefit has been waiting until after their fifth wedding anniversary to file for divorce, to take advantage of the greater payout afforded them by the prenup. Similarly, the spouse on the hook for the increased payment has sought to end the marriage before the deadline, sometimes on the recommendation of a financial advisor.
While loyalty clauses are often included in prenups to help achieve fairness should the marriage fail, they are also incentives to end a marriage either before or after a certain date. If you are considering a prenup, be sure to speak to an attorney about the possible ramifications of adding a loyalty clause.