With Valentine’s Day having just passed and 2020 being a Leap Year, the love vibes are strong this February. You may decide to follow in Amy Adams’ footsteps and follow your love across the Atlantic Ocean to spring a surprise proposal on him in Ireland, as she did in the 2010 rom-com ‘Leap Year’. Alternatively, you might keep it casual and pop the question over a roast chicken (if it’s good enough for Meghan and Harry, it’s good enough for me). If you are considering popping the question, or making any sort of ‘leap’ in your relationship, there are some points to consider…
Home Sweet Home
Moving in with your lovely other half is a very exciting time, but whilst decisions such as ‘queen or king bed?’ and ‘should we paint the kitchen duck egg blue or sky blue?’ seem really important, it’s also worth considering entering into a Cohabitation Agreement. The Agreement can be as simple or as complex as is necessary. Some will simply record each party’s deposit towards the property purchase and provide for that deposit, or a percentage of it, to be returned to the respective party should the relationship break down.
More complex agreements can cover: who pays what in terms of the household outgoings, who pays for improvement/renovation works and also who retains what personal possessions (such as cars, pets, furniture and contents). The Agreements can also regulate whether the parties will be entitled to make a claim against one another under the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 in the event of the relationship ending.
Whilst some may feel a Cohabitation Agreement completely sucks the romance out of an exciting time, my view is that having one in place strengthens a couple’s relationship by helping both parties feel secure and protected.
Popped the question?
If your BF is now your H2B and you’re #buzzing for your OTT DW (translation: if your boyfriend is now your husband to be and you’re buzzing for your over the top dream wedding) you’ll have a lot on your mind (including learning this wedding lingo). One thing worth adding to your to-do list is entering into a Pre-Nuptial Agreement. This is an Agreement entered into prior to the big day, which seeks to regulate how your assets will be divided between you should the marriage come to an end. It is normal for the agreement to list assets you each own prior to the marriage and to provide for them to be kept separate from other assets which are acquired during the marriage.
Provided the terms of a Pre-Nup are fair and it has not been rushed into (ideally don’t be signing it in the car on the way to the church – #lastminute.com) it is likely to be treated enforceable under Scots law.
Already put a ring on it? Fear not, it’s never too late!
Post-Nuptial Agreements can be particularly useful if you are to receive financial gifts or inheritance from family members. Entering into an Agreement during your marriage can help to ‘ring fence’ those financial assets and assets acquired following their sale and thereby providing certainty as to how they will be dealt with should the marriage come to an end.
It is recommended that both parties seek independent legal advice from a specialist family solicitor prior to entering into any type of Agreement. Doing so means that both individuals will be aware of the consequences and impact of their signing on the dotted line and makes it difficult for the Agreement to be un-picked at a later date.
Though they both begin with ‘L’, love and law seem like worlds apart. Whilst they may not naturally go hand in hand, some careful and sensible planning at the outset will likely reduce acrimony, cost, uncertainty and upset in the future.