Often public perception is that a matrimonial lawyer only deals with the end of a relationship and the issues that generally arise such as divorce and sorting out the resulting finances. However, my work also encompasses situations where it involves parties embarking on new relationships and who are keen to preserve their current and future assets from the start of the relationship. This can be by way of entering into an agreement in contemplation of the parties planning to live together or marry/remarry.
This may be because one party has come out of a failed relationship and is wary of entering into another relationship without preserving their current assets. Often though there are family assets which a party may have access to which he or she would wish to preserve for future generations or keep within their family. This can be where a party has a financial interest in a family owned company or farm for example. Also elder members of the family may refrain from wanting to make gifts to their children because they are concerned that if the younger generation’s relationship breaks down then those gifts may find their way outside of the family.
These sorts of agreements have often been thought of as “cold” and “unromantic” but in this day and age where people are often more financially savvy it just makes financial sense to set out what the intentions are at the start of a relationship so there are no surprises later. The agreements also provide for reviews upon key events occurring, eg the birth of children or after a specified period of time.
Ultimately though, where there is a dispute over settlement of financial matters upon a relationship breaking down, the court is asked to consider whether the terms of the agreement are fair amongst other factors. It is, therefore, always sensible to take legal advice about your position and at least talk through what criteria is required to try to make such an agreement as effective as possible. It may save heartache later or not because I genuinely prepare these agreements as a precaution with the full hope that the parties do go on to have a happy life together.
Wendy Beacom, is a Chartered Legal Executive who has worked in the North East specialising in family law for over 20 years. Wendy is an accredited specialist with Resolution, an organisation of specialist family lawyers, which means that she works to a prescribed standard of expertise in family law and supports a less confrontational approach to resolving issues. She is well regarded by clients and professionals alike for her pragmatism and approachability. Wendy is based in Wynyard, but is able to see clients at any of our four locations. You can contact her at [email protected]
Tilly Bailey & Irvine Family Solicitors are a sympathetic, understanding group of specialists who have a great deal of experience in this most sensitive area of law. Call: 0333 444 4422 or visit: tbilaw.co.uk for an initial free consultation.