Surge in women getting pre-nuptial agreements

Wealthy women scared of being fleeced by toyboy lovers have caused a surge in pre-nuptial agreements, it was revealed today.

A fear of losing their cash to lotharios sparked a significant increase in the number of wealthy, single, British women taking out pre-nups, said one of the country's leading law firms.

In the last year, Pannone reported a doubling of women taking legal steps to protect their assets in the event of a failed romantic relationship.

Fiona Wood, a partner with the Manchester-based firm, said they included professionals, entrepreneurs, women who had inherited family riches and individuals who acquired money and property through a divorce.

She suggested the sudden increase in women seeking pre-nups marked the start of a new trend - with most such agreements previously organised by men anxious to safeguard their wealth.

"Women are becoming more savvy when it comes to realising that it's not only men who may be targeted for their money," the lawyer said.

"Many, particularly those who have been married before, have told us that they would very much like to find a partner but are cautious when it comes to what happens to their cash.

"They have read stories about other wealthy women who have lost substantial sums in divorces and have stressed their determination not to follow suit."

Last year, heiress Linda Berkeley was forced to pay her younger husband £500,000 after the collapse of their 10-year marriage.

Before marrying her, he worked in a sandwich bar.

It was also reported that there had been an increase in the number of husbands trying to claim a share of their wives' wealth when their marriages fell apart.

Ms Wood - whose firm handled more than 800 divorces last year - said: "It used to be that remarriage was about hope triumphing over experience.

"However, now it is a case of that experience introducing a level of common sense into relationships.

"Those women who haven't been married are also understanding that, having established a career or a business, it makes good financial sense to put practical measures in place to protect what assets they have acquired as a result."

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