According to the British and world number 3 tennis player, Andy Murray, “marriage works”. That is what he signed off on the camera lens following his victory over Rafael Nadal at the Madrid Masters tournament on Sunday 10 May. Of course, the nuptials of Andy Murray and Kim Sears were recently served up in their April wedding and Andy’s honeymoon period continues with unprecedented back to back clay court tournament successes; a true sign of the invigoration that marriage has given this sports star.
As with many couples entering marriage, Mr Murray may well have been advised to enter a pre-nuptial agreement in order, for example, to secure against future losses and to provide for certainty in the event of a break up. One can only hope that the drafting was more thorough and skilfully executed than his courtside motivational note which, like his wedding, was much publicised last year and was divided in to two lots of five points to keep him going through a match.
Let us consider those notes in the context of the probable prenuptial agreement that will be stored away somewhere with a layer of accumulating dust as there is a story to be told there:
“Be good to yourself” – code perhaps for the preservation of elements of his own wealth so as to have that cushion and peace of mind in respect of the exceptional wealth that has been generated by way of prize money and other assets that you may have wished to secure. Some assets may have nothing to do with on court successes or, crucially, with his relationship and marriage (the caveat here being that the happy couple have been courting for some ten years or so since the days when Andy was clocking up faults and unforced errors in his driving lessons). As such, Andy may not want to be sharing all his wealth in the future if this marriage turns to divorce. Furthermore, a professional tennis career is not one that will cover even half of Andy’s working lifetime. What will happen once he hangs his racket up? Yes indeed, be good to yourself now and also in the future after you have retired.
“Try your best” – excellent advice to all married couples. Indeed, when the balls in the marriage are bouncing all over the place, and possibly the umpire (in law) is having his or her say, then the strain and pressure of the next point in the game can be very high. Pre-empting those pressure points in a marriage, perhaps around future family building with children or property acquisition, for example, may provide for some safe and sound comforts in the mind of a potentially vulnerable spouse-to-be. What a mess that might occur if you take your eye off the ball. A review of Andy’s performance (as well as that of Kim’s) periodically is likely to be necessary to ensure that the circumstances of his surge up the rankings and continued collection of cheques do not render any of the pre-nuptial clauses defective or over-ridden by a change of circumstances.
“Be intense with your legs” – enough said here, keeping on one’s toes is an essential ingredient in pre-planning and being commercially aware. The ace in the pack is to ensure that thought is given to things in good time without being after-thoughts or reactionary measures.
“Be proactive during points” – thinking on your feet from a legal perspective is not a task that a spouse should be required to do during a marriage. Leave that for the family solicitor to ensure that nothing slips through or hits the net by considering, where appropriate, whether and when a post-nuptial agreement or review of a pre-nuptial agreement should be conducted.
“Focus on each point and the process” – alas, process, a key factor to be followed when approaching the topic of pre-nuptial agreements and considering wealth preservation, security and the pre-emption of what may happen in the future. Do not leave it to the last moment or sign something you can neither read nor understand. Do consider your options with the benefit of the best legal advice and take on board the legal status afforded to nuptial agreements both in this jurisdiction and overseas, on tour as it were.
The second set of five points may well have been those which Kim Sears wished to have recognised in a pre-nuptial agreement. Let us consider these further by way of balancing the focus of power, a la deuce:
“Try to be the one dictating” – absolutely yes Kim, because in some cases, there may be a romantic undertone along the lines of ‘I’ll do whatever you ask’ which might be regarded as playing into the hands of the ‘for richer for poorer’ approach taken by the other spouse who is leading the discussions and proposing the pre-nuptial arrangements. Consider fairness, consider needs, consider material changes of circumstance in the future. Consider what you want to recover or retain and how you wish for this to be negotiated. Be guided by your family lawyer as to the considerations to be had in developing the shape of an agreement.
“Try to keep him at the baseline, make him move” – following on from above, Kim’s thoughts might be along the tram-lines of ‘the ball’s in your court as I have fifteen conditions for you, love. Can you accept what I would like or will you propose a compromise? As long as our marriage works, we both have nothing to lose’.
“Keep going for your serve” – don’t forget to take advice on the implications of compromise and the effect and meaning in real life of key potentially operative clauses that will be built into the agreement. Be comfortable with what you are signing up to. Whether you serve well now at the negotiating table will be likely to have an impact on how you feel one day in the future if things don’t work out in the marriage and when this document might suddenly be the match-point of whatever happens upon separation or divorce.
“Stick to the baseline as much as possible” – if there are some absolutely crucial requirements in your mind that must be included in the agreement, make them known and discuss them with your legal team. Do not forget however that there are wedding bells on the horizon and that whilst discussions are of a contractual nature, there is a balance to be struck between love and commerciality. Make sure you and, importantly, your solicitor, approach matters without driving your spouse out of town and out of marriage.
“Stay low on passes and use your legs” – a cooling off period is desirable after a sweat-inducing rally at the solicitor’s office. If your spouse-to-be is trying to run rings around you, do not enter into mind games. Back at home, in the comfort of familiar surroundings with you and your spouse-to-be away from legal-speak remember why it is that you are getting married in the first place and remember why a pre-nuptial agreement can be important to both of you without it needing to be a trophy that is being played for thus marking out a winner and loser. You are in it together and so both of you should be a winner.
As for the tennis, Andy heads to Paris shortly for the French Open – where better and more romantic could he continue on his future path with racket in one hand and wife’s hand in the other.
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