Tags: Family, Family Law, Disputes
At this time of year, there are hearts and flowers everywhere, as people prepare for Valentine’s Day. Many couples will be celebrating, and it is a popular date to pop the question and form an engagement.
Thinking about what could go wrong, or what might happen if a relationship goes wrong doesn’t feel very romantic, but it can save a great deal of heart-ache later on.
- If you get engaged, and the engagement is broken off, there is no legal obligation to return any engagement ring, unless you had a specific agreement that you would do so if the engagement was broken.(An agreement may be implied, particularly if the ring is a family heirloom!)
- Although couples who live together have no automatic legal claims against each other if the relationship breaks down, this changes if the couple were engaged. Provided that any claim is made within 3 years of the engagements being broken off, it is possible to seek a financial settlement in relation to how any property is divided.
If you are planning to live together, or to get married or engaged, it may be sensible for you to consider a pre-nuptial or cohabitation agreement. In a worst-case scenario, if the relationship breaks down, an agreement of this kind can help make a break-up less painful. However, it may also reduce the risk of the relationship breaking down.
Many relationships break down due to financial problems and one benefit of having a formal agreement in place at the start of the relationship is that it forces you both to think about your financial position, and your assumptions and expectations about how you will deal with money as a couple.
If you are planning to propose, or anticipating a proposal, this Valentine’s Day, Congratulations! Enjoy the romance, but consider whether a conversation about your finances may also be wise, sooner rather than later.
If you would like more information about Pre-Nuptial or Cohabitation agreements, or if you are in the unfortunate position of facing a relationship breakdown, Marjorie Taylor and Marion Fisher of our family department can help. We can talk you through your options, explain your rights and responsibilities, and help you to reach agreement with your former or future partner.