Will You Marry Me?

July 9, 2018

When you hear this question, it is a time for celebration and making plans for the future.  But does your legal position change?  Are there legal issues to consider even before you are married?

Here are a few points to consider from our specialist family lawyers Nicola Codd and Barbara Richardson:

  1. Does getting engaged change potential property claims?

Once you are engaged if you separate and one of you has contributed in money or monies worth to the improvement of any property that person (unless you agree otherwise) acquires a share or enlarged share in the property even if they are not named on the title deeds.

If you live together then a Co-habitation Agreement can deal with this and can help to prevent disputes should you separate. Such an agreement will no longer be effective on marriage so if either or both of you have property you want to keep then you should consider making a Pre-Nuptial Agreement.

If you bought property together in unequal shares and signed an agreement called a Declaration of Trust this will not protect you from claims after the wedding and you need to consider a Pre-Nuptial Agreement (before marriage) or Post-Nuptial Agreement (after marriage) in order to protect your different shares in the property from a claim if you separate.

  1. Should you review or make a Will?

If you haven’t got a Will your fiancée will not automatically benefit on your death before you are married. If you have lived together for over 2 years immediately before your death, then your fiancée can make a claim against your estate but to make sure your wishes are carried out you should make a Will.  You need to make sure your Will makes it clear that it is made in contemplation of your marriage to ensure it will continue to be effective after your marriage.

  1. If the engagement ends who keeps the ring?

The person who is wearing the engagement ring will be entitled to keep it.  This applies to any jewellery gifted when you get engaged unless it is given on condition that it is to be returned if the wedding does not go ahead.  You may need to handle this carefully, if the ring is a family heirloom and you want it to be returned this needs to be made very clear when it is given.

  1. If you are planning to get married abroad will the marriage be recognised by English law?

So long as it is a valid marriage according to the laws of the country where it was celebrated your marriage will be recognised by English law and you do not need to register the marriage in England.  It is important to do your research though as a ceremonial wedding is not enough.  For example, you cannot achieve a legally recognised marriage in the Maldives if you are a non-resident and you may need to arrange a marriage in England in order for the marriage to be recognised here.

 

Top Tips

  1. Talk to each other about your finances and then there is less chance of misunderstandings
  2. Discuss making a Will- have you each made one already? Do you want to?  Who do you want to benefit in the event of your death?
  3. It is your future- find out where you stand, be clear about what you want and enjoy your life together.

For more detailed advice contact our experienced family law solicitors on 01524 401010.

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