Family law considerations may not be at the top of your wedding checklist but you might want to give it some thought.
Given the recent changes that came into force on 4 July 2020 which allow people to get married or form a civil partnership with up to 30 guests attending their ceremony, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has recently issued guidance to assist couples planning their ceremony in England.
According to the Office for National Statistics around 73,600 weddings and civil partnerships were postponed during the first three months of lock down.
At present, the advice is that legally valid ceremonies or formations should only go ahead where they can be done in a COVID-19 secure environment. It is also advised that the ceremonies are kept as short as reasonably possible and limited as far as reasonably possible to the parts of the ceremonies that are required in order for the marriage or civil partnership to be legally binding.
In terms of ensuring that a marriage or civil partnership is legally binding, there are certain requirements that must be met:
- A marriage is solemnised by saying a prescribed form of words. Marriages can be conducted by either a civil or religious ceremony.
- A civil partnership ceremony is registered by signing the civil partnership document, with no set form of words required to be spoken. Civil partnerships can choose to hold a ceremony to follow the formation of their civil partnership, but this does not form part of the formation. The ceremony can be religious as long as the actual formation remains secular.
In light of the current guidelines, it can be seen how a marriage ceremony may just be limited to an introduction and the prescribed form of words, rather than perhaps lengthy readings by friends and family or the singing of songs.
The other aspect of a marriage which may be relevant for couples looking to reorganise things within short timescales is the process of giving notice. The notice period is the same for both marriages and civil partnerships. You must give at least 29 days’ notice before the ceremony. Notice of the marriage is to be given by each party in the registered district(s) in which he/she has lived for the previous 7 days. This may raise issues in terms of couples discovering an unexpectedly ‘free’ slot at their venue of choice or if the couple have been living somewhere other than their usual address and have to give notice in more than one place.
With some restrictions now being lifted, many couples may now decide to go ahead with their wedding or civil ceremony. As couples are preparing for their big day, taking legal advice in relation to a prenuptial agreement may not be at the top of their wedding checklist. Couples often view discussing the possible breakdown of a relationship as unromantic and a bit of a mood killer. This does not have to be the case.
Under the current law in England and Wales, couples can make prenuptial agreements; and the court may follow these agreements, but they are not binding. In more recent years the court have placed more weight on following the agreements provided that certain criteria has been met when entering into the agreement and that the parties circumstances have not changed in such a way that it would negatively impact on the enforceability of the agreement.
Prenuptial agreements can assist couples in creating clarity when entering into the marriage and also provide reassurance that in the unfortunate event of the breakdown of the relationship there are already some parameters of the separation set out and that matters can be dealt with in an amicable way. Here at Maguire Family Law we are here to provide expert legal advice if you are considering entering into a prenuptial agreement whilst making it an empowering and positive experience.
If you have any queries in respect of prenuptial agreements or a Family Law issue generally, then please do not hesitate to contact the team on 01625 544 650 or firstname.lastname@example.org.