Court puts husbands needs ahead of pre-nuptial agreement

By Lenore Rice

A High Court has nullified a pre-nuptial agreement because of the financial needs of a husband after his divorce from his wealthy heiress wife.

Francesco Limata married Victoria Luckwell in 2005, and her father insisted that they sign a pre-nuptial agreement to protect his daughter and his family's money. The prenup stated that Mr Limata could not claim on his wife's separate property and family gifts, though she could pursue him for maintenance in the event of a divorce. As a result, although Mr Limata did take independent legal advice before signing the pre-nuptial agreement, it was deemed that the agreement was unfair.

A subsequent gift of a house by Ms Luckwell's father contained a condition that she could not sell or mortgage the house without his consent, and a second marital property agreement signed by Mr Limata stated it should be treated as non-matrimonial property.

After 7 years of marriage and 3 children the couple decided to divorce and Mr Limata left the matrimonial home, and his wife petitioned for divorce a few months later.

Mr Justice Holman decided that Mr Limata's needs outweighed the fact of the property agreements which he believed he were unfair. In particular, he noted that if the genders were reversed that it would be "inconceivable that the agreements would outweigh making a substantial award to the wife."

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