Most of you reading our articles this week will perhaps have done so with a passing interest, but with not a thought to your own situation.
Whilst clearly a sign that your relationship is in a good place, it is always worth considering what would happen to your assets should anything ever happen in the future.
Although it’s never the most appealing of conversations to have with your partner, determining upfront how your assets would be divided should you ever go your separate ways can save you both a huge amount of time, conflict and money if ever the situation arose.
There are different steps you can take to do this, depending on where you currently stand in your relationship.
Living together but not married and with no immediate plans to become so
In this instance we would urge you to give serious consideration to attaining a cohabitation agreement.
Unmarried couples in England and Wales are not adequately protected from the financial impact of separation in the same way as married couples are. No party is automatically entitled to anything that belonged to the other, even when there are children to consider. Even if you are the owner of a property, separation does not automatically mean that you are protected from the possibility of financial claims from your former partner. In many ways, the ending of a cohabiting relationship can be just as difficult as one where the parties are married.
Despite more people choosing to cohabit ahead of marriage, or electing not to marry at all, the law in England and Wales remains antiquated and unfit for purpose for cohabitants.
A Cohabitation Agreement is a legal document between an unmarried couple which details how their financial affairs/property should be managed whilst living together and what would happen in the event that their relationship should end.
Planning to marry in the near future
More than at any other point, if you and your partner have decided to take the huge step to marry, the last thing on your minds will be what happens if things go wrong.
But people enter into marriage from different places in life, and whilst some are happy to share everything they own with their husband or wife to be, for others there are circumstances where they might feel differently.
A Prenuptial Agreement is an effective way to distinguish between what assets or property should be seen as open for division between the parties and what assets or property should be retained solely by one of the parties.
In essence, taking care of your own destiny if the worst was to happen and the marriage was to break down. In the absence of a Prenuptial Agreement, the worst case scenario is that the division of assets would be determined by the court. This can be a lengthy and expensive process.
You may think that once you are married, the best way to resolve such issues should you separate would be through divorce proceedings.
Predicting the outcome of any divorce is frequently very difficult when it comes to financial matters, especially if there are children of the family to consider.
Having already entered into marriage, you can make an effort to pre-emptively determine which assets or property should be seen as open for division in the event of divorce and which should be retained solely by one of the parties as their own assets/property.
This is done by creating a post-nuptial agreement.
If you are interested in or need assistance with any of these protective steps, our team of experts have got your back.
We've Got Your Back
If you are separating, a number of issues may arise on which sound legal advice is essential. We can talk you through alternative dispute resolution options, to help mitigate the need for expensive and drawn-out court proceedings.