As the festive season comes to an end, January often marks a period of reflection and change for many individuals. While it is true that divorce rates can peak in the New Year, this can also be a time to set the right foundations in place for positive transformations in family dynamics.

Terri Anson-Dean, Associate within our Family & Relationships department, explains more about the steps you can take to protect your relationship in the future or, should you be considering divorce proceedings, the various options open to you when moving forward.

Cohabitation Agreements

The start of a new year is an excellent time for individuals and couples to reassess their priorities and set new goals in their personal lives.

You may have decided over the festive break that you and your partner would like to live together.  If you have reached this decision and you are now looking for your home, a Cohabitation Agreement can be a valuable tool which establishes clear expectations and boundaries once you have moved in together.  It is a common misconception that cohabiting couples receive the same rights as married couples should their relationship breakdown.  A Cohabitation Agreement will bring a transparency and honesty to your relationship and in the event of separation, both parties know how they will financially uncouple from each other.

A Cohabitation Agreement can include a variety of topics should your relationship end, such as:

  • How your real and personal property will be divided
  • Financial responsibilities of both parties
  • How any debt will be settled
  • Setting out the arrangements for your children
  • How the agreement will be terminated

When putting a Cohabitation Agreement in place, you should also consider updating your Wills and Powers of Attorney as these will make provisions for any eventuality in the future.

Pre-Nuptial Agreements

Christmas is also a popular time for engagements and if you are celebrating your upcoming nuptials you may wish to consider a pre-nuptial agreement among your discussions for the perfect venue.

As couples plan for their futures together, a pre-nuptial agreement can provide a sense of security. Pre-nuptial agreements are not purely for the rich and famous but can provide clarity and financial protection for anyone looking to tie the knot.  An agreement of this nature will set out the following aspects of your married life and confirm arrangements for:

  • Your property you own
  • Finances, such as:
    • Capital
    • Investments
    • Pensions
    • Income
    • Inheritance
  • Possessions and valuables

It is important to note that a pre-nuptial agreement cannot make stipulations relating to arrangements for your children or about other aspects of your personal life.  There are certain requirements needed to ensure a pre-nuptial agreement is legally binding, all of which we can discuss with you.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

We appreciate that Christmas and New Year celebrations can put a strain on your relationship, and it may be that you have reached the decision to separate or divorce.

There will be many things to discuss from living arrangements, uncoupling your finances and agreeing the arrangements for your children. There are ways that these discussions can take place amicably through Alternative Dispute Resolution.

There are several options when it comes to our support, with the main routes being:

  • Collaborative Law – you and your former partner would both be present during the meetings to reach a resolution, appointing your own lawyers to represent each of you.
  • Family Mediation – an independent Family Mediator would work with you and your former partner, acting as a neutral party to facilitate discussions.
  • Private Financial Dispute Resolution – you and your partner would have a specialist run your Financial Dispute Resolution hearing outside of the Court setting, which can be less intimidating and often quicker than waiting for Court proceedings to agree your financial arrangements.

Your own situation and circumstances will dictate which method may be successful for you, and we will discuss this with you to find the most beneficial route for you and your family to move forward.

Should none of these methods be appropriate or successful, our experienced Family lawyers can advise you through Court proceedings, representing you and your interests.  Since the introduction of the no-fault divorce in April 2022, we have seen a move towards a more amicable path to divorce with the removal of attributing blame to one party involved.  No matter the reason for your separation, we know that this will be a difficult time for you and your family involved and we are here to offer our guidance whether that is through alternative methods of dispute resolution or Court proceedings.

Whether you are looking for advice about a Cohabitation Agreement, pre-nuptial agreement or a divorce, our experienced Family lawyers are here to offer their advice.  We offer a free initial consultation during which you can inform us of your own personal situation.  To book your appointment or have your questions answered, contact us today using the contact form, emailing moc.n1709423079ellub1709423079rekra1709423079p@ofn1709423079i1709423079 or contact your local office today:

  • Family Solicitors Andover: 01264 400500
  • Family Solicitors Romsey: 01794 328688
  • Family Solicitors Salisbury: 01722 412000
  • Family Solicitors Witney: 01993 670944

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice. All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.

Our contributor

Terri Anson-Dean

Associate

View Terri's Profile

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