Love is in the Air – legal tips and traps for Love in February.
Valentines Day has taken over Leigh Broadway as our shops are filled with cards and flowers, and our restaurants promote romantic meals for two. Leigh on sea was chosen as the happiest place to live by Rightmove in November, so just how happy is the town going to be when there is love in the air too?
Legal advice is not really a romantic gesture, and can be a bit of a killer. So perhaps pick your moment before suggesting it…
There have been many songs written about Marriage – my favourites are “Love & Marriage” (….go together like a Horse & Carriage..), but there is also that other old one – “There may be trouble ahead…” . You would not buy a house without getting insured, in fact you would not go abroad without insurance, so given love’s track record I would advise that marriage should also come with some level of protection for if, sadly, there is trouble ahead. This is particularly so if you already have children from a previous relationship, or significantly different assets or finances that perhaps you would want to retain if the marriage broke down.
Pre-nuptial agreements are much more widely used now as many of us enter into marriage with baggage (and not necessarily Louis Vuitton, but it is your baggage). It may feel awkward to think about a legal agreement at such a time, but actually that is exactly what marriage is – it is a legal contract and with that comes obligations that are often only examined if and when the marriage breaks up. So actually a pre-nup is only an extension of that and if nothing else, both parties then understand the legal consequences for their property and finances if it happens. Hopefully like holiday insurance it will not be necessary.
A wedding usually involves a few months planning. Lots of time to trot along to visit a solicitor just to find out what is involved. Legal advice costs money of course, but it even if the least popular guest on your wedding invite list has to be removed from your list to protect your future, I would say that is just a win win situation.
Romance does not necessarily mean Marriage, and soon anyone will be able to chose a civil partnership instead. However, the same applies as civil partnership carries the same principles of sharing assets and therefore can also be pre-empted by an agreement.
And moving in together? This can be even more tricky as the legal position will vary from one situation to another. Even sharing a tenancy of a short-term let can lead to issues as the broken hearted can find them selves broken further if their once loved one has left them with all the bills. Take proper advice on entering into a tenancy.
But one of the biggest is buying a property together, or moving into a property that one of you own. This is a huge risk financially that can be so easily covered with advice at the outset whilst the pink champagne remains on ice, and you are both happy to discuss things that feel too remote to ever happen. What would happen to the generous deposit that the
Bank of Mum & Dad gave? Who is really responsible for the mortgage payments if the other disappears off the scene? And if you are the owner can the one that has moved in acquire part ownership by decorating the bathroom?
This editorial is by Melinda Giles at Giles Wilson Solicitors.