A simple search of the most popular days to propose throws up numerous festive dates including Christmas eve, Christmas day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, so I think it’s a fair assumption to make that there’ll be lots of newly-engaged people out there at the moment.

If this is you, firstly congratulations. Just because we’re divorce lawyers doesn’t mean we don’t love a bit of romance!

Secondly, amongst all the exciting plans you might be making for the future, there are some legal aspects you should consider in your planning too.

If you are planning a long engagement while co-habiting…

Remember, common-law marriage is a myth. As it stands, cohabiting couples have no legal rights in the event of a relationship breakdown.

If you are engaged and living together with no immediate plans to get married, you may wish to consider having a cohabitation agreement in place which sets out your responsibilities in respect of property, bills, and any children you share, in the event of your relationship breaking down.

If your wedding in imminent…

While the breakdown of your upcoming marriage is certainly not something you’ll be thinking about while in your engagement ‘bubble’, for peace of mind you should consider asking a solicitor whether a pre-nuptial agreement is right for you. This will ensure that any pre-existing assets owned by one of you prior to your relationship, such as property, savings or investments are suitably protected.  Whilst not legally-binding, pre-nuptial agreements are afforded a certain weight in the family courts during the divorce process so are definitely worth considering.

If you’ve already eloped…!

If your engagement and wedding have both happened within a matter of weeks, you may not have had the time to consider a pre-nuptial agreement but you may still be able to enter into a similar contract in the form of a post-nuptial agreement. This type of marital agreement is similar to the pre-nuptial agreement offering you protection in the event of a marriage breakdown.

If you are planning to become a blended family…

Blended families, where one or both of you have children from a previous relationship, are one of the fastest growing family types in the UK. With divorce rates as high as they are, it’s now more common than ever for men and women to remarry further down the line creating larger blended families with step-children and step-siblings and sometimes half-siblings too.

If one or both of you have a child/children from a previous relationship, you will need to consider what impact your upcoming marriage may have on any child arrangements you have with their other parent.

We would always advise you keep the dialogue open with your former partner as to your intentions for child arrangements post-marriage. Will anything change with those arrangements? Will the child/children be living with you and your new spouse? Will they split their time between two households? Where the child/children are old enough, it’s important that you discuss any possible changes with them beforehand and consider their opinions.

If the child/children’s other parent is no longer around, you and your spouse may wish to consider adopting the other’s child/children to provide a solid legal structure for your new family.

And finally, some other related considerations…

If you have a will drafted, remember that this can become invalid in the event of marriage so you may need to consider redrafting it so you have a valid will in place. If you don’t yet have a will, we would advise you seriously consider getting one drafted, regardless of your age. You can read about the benefits of having one in place here but additionally, you’ll want to ensure your new spouse and any other loved ones receive what you want them to receive in the event of your death.

Get in touch

To discuss any of the matters mentioned in this article, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our family law team here at Farleys. You can call us on 0845 287 0939, get in touch by email through our online contact form, or use the chat button below.