February 14th… one of the most popular dates in the year for engagements11/02/2022
For a number of couples across the country, Monday 14 February 2022 will be a very important date as it will signify the date of their engagement. A wonderful, joyous occasion filled with happiness, love and great expectations for a long and happy future.
But what does an engagement and a plan to marry actually mean…other than an interfering Mother of the Bride, a nervous best man and a hefty bill?!
It can be easy to forget that a marriage is a legally binding contract, as well as being an emotional union of a couple. Saying ‘I do’ means the couple are bound in law, as well as in the eyes of their family and friends.
The majority of people wouldn’t sign a legally binding contract without knowing its terms or implications yet so many people marry without an understanding of the implications, particularly in relation to finances. Many do not realise the effect that the marriage may have on their finances whether in relation to assets that they hold in their sole name or own jointly with their new spouse, or assets accumulated by them prior to the ‘big day’.
In the unfortunate event that a marriage breaks down, in most cases, the main disagreement and upset relates to financial matters which often stem from a pre-conceived misconception as to what is fair and who should get what.
The same misconceptions can apply to couples that never actually get round to the big white wedding but instead purchase their dream home and start a family together. If the relationship breaks down, they too may be shocked to learn the reality of their previous decisions. Although the ‘common-law’ marriage is a myth, there are all sorts of issues that may arise if a relationship breaks down in respect of arrangements for children or jointly owned assets and resources.
For many, pre-nups are still considered to be reserved for the rich and famous and are more ‘New York’ than ‘Newcastle’. They can be deemed unromantic and an unnecessary cost but they are becoming increasingly popular and an acceptable and cost effective way to protect against the unknown.
When making big decisions in your life, such as buying a house, getting engaged, getting married, or starting a family it is always important to understand the long-term future implications of that decision. Even if a pre-nuptial agreement or cohabitation agreement is not on the agenda, it is important to seek early, independent legal advice to discuss what may or may happen as a result of personal decisions. It does not necessarily have to be cynical to take advice before you act, just sensible!