Alison Cantor is a solicitor, Resolution member and Collaborative lawyer, in the Family Law team at TSP.
Alison says, “There are many ways in which written agreements, particularly in relation to financial and property matters, are significantly important for couples and families. Whether you are at the start of a relationship, purchasing property, moving in together or contemplating separation, there are a number of options to consider, including entering into a written agreement with the other person.”
“The Family Law team at TSP advises clients on a day to day basis on all types of relationship agreements. We can discuss with you the different ways of arriving at such agreements, including mediation, Collaborative law and traditional negotiation, and we can offer a free initial telephone chat to provide general information for prospective clients, so please get in touch.”
1. I am engaged to be married. How can I plan ahead to avoid a dispute should our marriage regrettably break down?
A prenuptial agreement is a practical way of agreeing how your financial affairs will be dealt with in the event of your marriage ending. Such agreements are signed by the couple in anticipation of marriage and before the wedding ceremony. Whilst, technically, prenuptial agreements are not legally binding in England and Wales, they will be afforded significant weight if you later divorce and the Family Court will be slow to interfere provided the agreement is fair to you both and certain safeguards are put in place during the preparation of the agreement.
2. I am going through a divorce. Can I resolve the financial arrangements by agreement?
In most cases it is possible for a couple facing divorce or dissolution of their civil partnership to agree how their financial affairs will be dealt to avoid the significant cost and heartache of arguing matters through the Family Court. Provided matters are agreed, you can enter into a written agreement known as a Consent Order. The Consent Order must be signed by you both before it is submitted to the Family Court for approval, ideally at the same time as the divorce/dissolution. The Consent Order will record how your respective financial claims are to be dealt with now and in the future. This will be legally binding on both parties, and provide a level of certainty for the future.
3. I am purchasing a property with my partner and we intend to live together. What should we consider?
Buying a home together is an exciting time. There is a lot to organise, and we know that the last thing you really want to be thinking about is what you might do if things go wrong in your relationship at some point in the future. If you are purchasing a property in joint names and one person is contributing more than the other to the purchase, you should discuss this with your conveyancing lawyer at the time of purchase. You may wish to consider entering into a Declaration of Trust which, quite simply, is a legal document recording the manner in which the property is held and the shares owned by you both. If you plan to live together outside of marriage or civil partnership you should consider preparing a Living Together or Cohabitation Agreement with the assistance of a specialist family lawyer. This can, amongst other things, set out how the mortgage repayments and utility bills will be paid, how any joint bank account will run, responsibility for structural repairs and renovations, and what will happen to the property should your relationship unfortunately break down.