Okay, so no amount of legal advice can ensure a marriage is perfect or happy – but for many couples the marry-and-hope-it’s-all-okay approach to the financial future is short-sighted and, frankly, ill-advised.
So, here at Healys, our family lawyers in London and Brighton have put together a list of the most important considerations for couples who are planning their big day so that, should the worst happen, they are protected financially.
The prenuptial agreement – If there is a significant disparity in the wealth of either the bride or groom, a prenuptial agreement is the best way to safeguard assets in the event of a divorce. In more and more cases family courts will take a well-drafted pre-nup into consideration when ruling on a financial claim. However, each case will be judged on its own merits and the courts will always seek fairness in a financial settlement on divorce. A prenuptial agreement cannot be used to potentially disadvantage one spouse on divorce.
If a pre-nup is not for you – Even divorce solicitors understand that a pre-nup may be difficult, or even unnecessary, for some couples to arrange. However, if that is the case and there is a significant difference in assets between the spouses, it may be prudent to keep certain assets separate. Savings accounts can be kept apart from matrimonial funds and joint accounts, so that, should the worst happen, each spouse has a greater chance of keeping their personal wealth when the finances are sorted out.
Weddings are expensive – As more and more couples opt for the VERY BIG day, involving expensive dresses, chic wedding venues and elaborate catering, couples need to ensure they have agreed legally-binding contracts with all the suppliers involved in making the day as wonderful as they wish. Without contracts and supply agreements all sorts of problems, extra charges and let-downs can occur, so it’s a good idea to check and re-check the small print to ensure the wedding party is not left out in the cold on their special day.
Wedding gifts are expensive – While most spouses might not lose sleep over who would get the toaster in a divorce, some wedding gifts are extremely valuable. Cash wedding gifts from a parent of up to £5,000 will not have inheritance tax implications (April 2013) and grandparents can give up to £2,500 before IHT must be considered. However, larger cash gifts or gifts of major assets, such as property, need careful consideration, as in the event of a divorce a son or daughter-in-law may end up with 50% of a gift which the parents never really intended them to have.
Make sure you are married – The trend for getting married abroad, in fabulously exotic locations, is growing rapidly, but family lawyers have a few words of warning for couples who choose to carry out their nuptials in a foreign land. If the wedding is not carried out within the laws of the land, it may not be recognised as binding and therefore is unlikely to be binding in the UK either. Most reputable foreign-wedding planners, and the companies which organise wedding packages abroad, should have everything in place to make the marriage legal, but for those couples who choose to organise a foreign wedding themselves, or if anything seems out of place, it would be prudent to check all the legal details to avoid confusion.
Planning a wedding? Talk to Healys
If you have any legal questions regarding planning a wedding and the ramifications the change in status this will mean for you, why not talk to one of our family lawyers in London or Brighton.
To find out more about our family law services and about prenuptial agreements, please click here.