As un-romantic as it sounds, a change in your relationship (even a positive one) could impact your future final situation and it is worthwhile taking legal advice.
If you start living with your partner (‘cohabiting’) there are possible legal implications and you may want consider entering into a Cohabitation Agreement.
Should your relationship come to an end, within one year of separation (the "cessation of cohabitation") it is possible for one party to claim for financial provision from the other. To be successful in such a claim the party must be able to demonstrate that he or she has suffered economic disadvantage in the interests of his or her partner, or of any child of the relationship, and that the other party has derived economic advantage from the contributions made by the person applying for the order.
There is also the possibility for a claim to be made if a cohabitant dies during cohabitation if the deceased did not have a Will. In such circumstances the survivor can make a claim on the deceased’s estate within six months of the deceased’s death.
We are finding that many cohabiting couples are attracted to agreeing the arrangements which will apply in the event of their separation, rather than leave themselves open to a claim being made. Cohabitation Agreements can provide comfort and security for couples who are living together and building up assets together. Such agreements enable couples to decide what will happen with their assets in the event of separation. They can agree to exclude any or all of the claims that could be made in the event of separation if they wish to and, amongst a number of things, they can set out how the proceeds of the sale of the family home should be divided in the event of separation.
While your new living arrangement may seem like plain sailing, it is worthwhile considering and planning for the possibility of future trouble in paradise.
If you and your partner get engaged it may be worthwhile considering a Prenuptial Agreement (“Prenup”).
A Prenup can be entered into prior to a marriage with a view to regulating the treatment of assets in the event of separation or divorce. Such agreements often seek to ring-fence certain assets and they can specify financial provision in the event of separation. If you or your partner has pre-established wealth a Prenup could be of particular relevance.
While the thought of contracting for possible future separation is not necessarily what you want to think about while planning your wedding, you may want to add speaking to a family solicitor to your list of “wedmin” tasks.
Just as you would hope that you will not have to claim on a wedding insurance policy or travel insurance policy for the honeymoon, a Prenup should be considered as an insurance policy for the marriage that you will hopefully never need to claim on but that is prudent to have just in case.
If you would like more information or advice in relation to a change in your relationship status please do get in touch with us.