Pink Weddings Magazine PinkWeddings AW2017_V2 - Page 52

legal advice The best way to take off Make sure you pin down a few essential issues before you get carried away with the wedding, advises Fiona Connah A wedding day is a momentous day in anybody’s life. It takes a lot of planning, organisation and thought. Hopefully it is one of the best days of your life. There are many decisions to be made and every couple prioritises different things. For some people it’s the food and the company that is most important, for other people it’s the clothes or the venue. But for every couple on their wedding day, whether they are aware of it or not, essentially what is happening is that the nature of their relationship is changing. Before getting married, even as a cohabiting couple, there is essentially nothing that really binds a couple together other than their feelings for each other. You can make plans together, go on holiday – but unless you enter into a specific contract, when you purchase a property for example, you can separate and move on without any overarching legal framework affecting your life. On the day you marry you are entering into a marriage contract and from that day on your relationship is, to some extent (whether you know it or not) affected by many different pieces of legislation. While it is important, and fun, to focus on the wedding day, it is essential to remember that there is hopefully a long and happy marriage to follow. So it is important that before you marry you give some consideration to legal matters. If you do not make a will, for example, then your assets upon death are distributed according to the intestacy rules. These may or may not reflect what you 52 » pink weddings magazine actually want. If you want to ensure that your spouse, or indeed anybody else, receives the assets upon your death that you would like them to receive, it is essential that you have a will. Were your relationship to break down at any time in the future and as a couple you were to disagree as to how the assets are to be divided, then the role of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 could have a strong impact on the division of your property. This can potentially be avoided by entering into a pre-nuptial agreement. Both myself and my colleague Hannah can help to negotiate and then draft pre-nuptial agreements, but it is important to deal with this type of agreement early on in the planning of a wedding and not to wait until the last minute! While legal issues are probably not the most romantic of things to consider before a marriage, in my experience if you can discuss and think about practical issues thoroughly then this will only serve to strengthen your relationship. Tackling legal issues directly will bring certainty, and with certainty comes peace of mind – a great way to start a marriage. Fiona Connah is a partner and head of the Family Department at QS Howlett Clarke’s Southwick Office, West Sussex. Howlett Clarke also has an office in the heart of Brighton.