Don’t forget Valentine’s Day!

Edit provided by Rawlison Butler

How could you forget?  Well, some people do. If this article prevents a single person from going home to be met by a stony wall of silence, it will have served its purpose.

But that means that now you have been reminded there may be a financial consequence – Valentine’s Day is expensive and there are some breath-taking statistics such as:

On average men spend £40 on Valentine’s Day whereas women spend on average £24 (surprise you as it may).

Jewellery sales peak on 8th February in anticipation of the big day; clearly no last minute purchases at the petrol station!

10% of all marriage proposals take place on Valentine’s Day.

The UK as a whole spends £595 million on Valentine’s Day (13% on jewellery, 15% on spa treatments, 17% on a car and 27% on a holiday).

In the US the spending will rocket to $18.9 billion from which 58 million pounds of chocolate will be consumed.

However, the one statistic that they have overlooked is the percentage shift in work of family lawyers from relationship breakdown to the happier getting together.  We do know that the cohabitation rate has gone up and happily the divorce rate is starting to fall.  There is no science in this but the work of RB’s Family Department (based in the Carfax) is reflecting this trend by increasingly tailoring their service to meet the demand for Cohabitation and Pre-Nuptial Agreements.

This explains why on the eve of Valentine’s weekend the paper is giving space to family lawyers who are also involved with the positive side of relationships.  And there is indeed much to be positive about and consideration of this article is not in any sense unromantic.  If you think it is then rip this page out and save it until the 15th February when you might like to consider the following:-

Living Together?

1. There is no such thing as a ‘common law marriage’ in English law.  How your assets will be divided upon a subsequent separation is completely arbitrary and coincidental and sometimes may boil down to as little as how the Judge interprets what you intended from your conduct?

2. It is possible that in the event of a subsequent separation one party may inherit 50% of the value of the home in which they live even though they didn’t necessarily make any contribution to purchasing the home.  That may apply in the event of death where they may inherit 100% of the property.

3. It is therefore essential that there is a clause regulating what happens in respect of the capital in the event of a breakdown.  During the life of the relationship advice needs to be sought on how the mortgage payments are made.

4. If one party is in a position to make additional contributions be it by way of improvements to the property etc. these need to be dealt with in the Agreement.

5. In respect of those items that you purchase together how are these going to be divided?

6. Debt – alas there are very few people without any debt and you may have to give consideration as to how these will be dealt with.

The understanding that you may feel that you have as you are about to embark on the relationship is unlikely to survive the contrary understanding that your partner ultimately thinks you had at the end of a relationship.

If however you emerge from Valentine’s weekend with your life mapped out ahead of you with your partner – congratulations.

Or Getting Married?

A marriage that is built to last will withstand a Pre-Nuptial Agreement.  The use of Pre-Nuptial Agreements in the UK has literally ‘rocketed’ in recent years.  Madonna had one and saved a fortune. Ashleigh Cole did not and one suspects she wished she had.

There a whole host of reasons for a Pre-Nuptial Agreement.  In particular if you are wealthier than your partner, earn more, have your own business, already have children from a previous relationship or are proposing to leave your job to raise children or your partner has a higher level of debt.  The list is literally endless.  However, a Pre-Nuptial Agreement may address the following:-

1. Given that the divorce law carries inherent uncertainty you may wish to ensure that you are not exposed to this at a later date and endeavour to dictate a subsequent settlement.  This can lead to a significant saving in legal costs at a later date.

2. There’s evidence that there is a reluctance to marry because of the uncertainty about divorce.  A Pre-Nuptial Agreement may remove that uncertainty and encourage the reluctant bride or groom to ‘take the plunge’.

3. You may wish to agree for provision for any of your children from a previous relationship or any future children that you may have within the marriage.

4. You may wish to preserve previously acquired assets.

5. You may wish to protect a subsequent inheritance.

6. You may just wish to retain some control.

All of the foregoing are matters to be considered (ok, not the weight of chocolate consumed in America over Valentine’s Day) but whatever you do have a great weekend and remember; whilst diamonds are forever, legal advice can ensure you keep them!

For more information, contact Nigel Winter by emailing Nigel ( or by calling him on +44 (0)1403 252492.

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