Marriage vows will be made meaningless if pre-nuptial agreements become legally enforceable, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Shrewsbury has warned.
The Rt Revd Mark Davies said ‘pre-nups’ encourage people to prepare for divorce before they are even married.
His comments come as the Law Commission – the official body which considers reform of laws – is set to recommend making pre-nups legally enforceable in England and Wales.
He said: “Should we not be putting our efforts into guarding and building-up the institution of marriage rather than steadily undermining it?”
Pre-nups are not legally binding at present, but a Supreme Court ruling in 2010 gave more weight to the agreements – which say who will get what if a couple splits up.
Speaking in Chester to couples celebrating major wedding anniversaries, Bishop Davies asked, “what message does this send to couples considering marriage?”.
“Prenuptial agreements may soon become enshrined in civil law on the recommendation of the Law Commission.
“Our society would be proposing to couples seeking marriage that they prepare their own divorce settlement before making the life-long promises of marriage.
“It is a legal provision which would surely empty the words of the marriage promise” – such as for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer and till death us do part – of “all meaning”, he said.
Following the 2010 case, commentator Bel Mooney criticised pre-nups, asking, “isn’t it the case that a prenuptial agreement exists only because one or both parties presume – or even expect – that the marriage will fail at some point?
“It’s a negative approach to life that reduces the most sacred of human vows to a commodity, subject to barter and price increases like everything else in the marketplace”, she said in an article for the Daily Mail.
Before the 2010 General Election the Conservatives said they wanted to make pre-nups legally binding.