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Having previously advised on many pre nuptial agreements, for the first time ever this week we found ourselves helping a client who wished to enter in to a pre nuptial agreement with their fiancé for their upcoming same-sex marriage, thanks to the change in Northern Ireland’s laws at midnight on 22nd October 2019.

Until now, any advices to same-sex couples would have been restricted only to the couple entering in to a Civil Partnership. However, since midnight on 22nd October 2019 the law has changed, and same-sex couples will be able to get married in Northern Ireland by February 2020.

The change in the law opens up the same rights and entitlements on divorce that any couple would obtain on getting married. It is important to remember marriage is not just an emotional union, but it is a financial contract, combining each person’s assets with the others. For any couple, it is therefore a worth while exercise seeking advice from an experienced family solicitor in advance of your wedding, to ensure that you understand the impact marriage will have on the assets you currently own or may at some point own in the future.

If you own significant assets now and wish to protect these assets on marriage, you may wish to consider entering in to a pre nuptial or post nuptial agreement. These agreements will help detail how your assets are to be divided in the event you and your spouse were to separate at some point in the future and help minimise any future legal costs.
While pre and post nuptial agreements are not necessarily legally binding in Northern Ireland, recent court cases in England and Wales have inspired practitioners to advise their clients on the benefits of these agreements before or during the marriage. In light of this case law the Court can be heavily persuaded to uphold an agreement reached by a couple at a time they both held each others best interests at heart, so long as each spouse obtained independent legal advice and disclosed the full extent of their financial assets. It is important that any agreement is fair, entered in to willingly by both parties and finalised well in advance of any wedding date.

If the recent change in law in Northern Ireland has you considering marriage, ensure to make an informed decision. The family law team at Edwards & Co. Solicitors has a wealth of experience in advising clients’ on pre nuptial agreements.

 

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