On Sunday 24 March 2019, Clapham and Collinge will be attending the Norwich City Football Club Wedding Show.
I expect your thinking – why on earth are lawyers attending a wedding show? Well there a number of reasons. Getting married is an incredibly exciting (and potentially stressful) time for couples with long lists of things to organise. Planning is key – or so I am told! Many couples will prioritise the bigger things such as organising the venue, invitations, seating plans (who can/cannot sit next to each other), transport, accommodation, cake, food and the all-important honey moon. There are also some other crucial things to add to the "to do list" which often get forgotten- something that we are aiming to change!
Getting married is a perfect time to plan for the future and as lawyers we love to plan! We think it is a great time to check that your affairs are in order and seek advice where necessary. Just as you might go and see your financial advisor or accountant, your lawyer should also be on the list.
One of things that couples need to consider and discuss is how they are going to manage their finances. Many couples decide that they are going to share their finances when married but it is important that whatever you decide, it works for you as a couple.
Sometimes, there can be an imbalance in the parties' financial positions. For example, one party may come into the relationship with more assets than the other. They may have a property in their own name or an inheritance. This is becoming more common with the rise in blended families and those choosing to marry later on in life.
Where there is an imbalance, couples may want to consider entering into a pre-nuptial agreement to protect their financial positions if the worst was to happen and the relationship was to break down. Discussing pre-nuptial agreements can be an emotive issue but they are becoming more common place and an integral part of financial planning.
So what is a pre-nup?
A pre-nuptial agreement is a document in which a couple set out their rights in relation to any property, debts, income and other assets purchased together or acquired individually, or that they brought into the relationship.
Why should I consider a pre-nup?
Once married, all of the assets accrued during the relationship have the potential to become marital assets unless specific protections have been put in place. This means that they could form part of the overall family pot which will need to be divvied up as part of resolving the family finances. Like with many things there are narrow exceptions to this rule and it is possible for assets to be treated differently depending on their nature so it is important to get specialist advice. This may not be what couples want. Remember, the starting point, in the absence of a pre-nuptial or post nuptial agreement (discussed below) is that the marital assets should be divided equally between the couple – but this is only a starting point! There may be reasons to depart from this based on the couples individual circumstances – no one set of circumstances is the same!
It is also important to consider a pre-nuptial agreement if you, or your future spouse has a business. This may be something that you wish to specifically protect. A divorce can have a huge impact on a business and is something that many people do not realise until it is too late. It may not be romantic but it can be absolutely necessary to avoid a mess later on down the line.
So what is a post-nup?
A post-nuptial agreement is similar to a pre-nuptial agreement except that it is entered into after the marriage.
Do the Court actually take these agreements into consideration?
The Court take pre and post nuptial agreements very seriously as they provide evidence of your intentions as a couple in the event of a relationship breakdown. The Court is prepared to uphold them so long as they have been entered into fairly with safeguards for both parties being adhered to.
What else shall I consider?
Many people are still unaware that getting married or entering into a civil partnership usually revokes any previous Will or Codicils you have made, even if this is not your intention. This means that if you do not make a new Will then when you die your estate will be distributed in accordance with the Intestacy Rules which can be arbitrary and fundamentally your estate may not go to the people you would like.
As with any significant life event it is important to plan for the future. Weddings are a joyous occasion bringing together family and friends but it is important to plan for the future. Considering a pre-nup or post- nup and updating your Will are things to add to the wedding "to do list" to provide you piece of mind before you head off into the sunset!
Our advice is bespoke, confidential and totally designed around you, to find out more or discuss your individual requirements in further detail call our specialist Family Law Solicitors on 01603 693500 or email us using the 'Make an enquiry' form. Appointments available at our Norwich, North Walsham, and Sheringham offices.
*This article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or other professional advice.