Legal things to bear in mind when you marry
Wedding planning isn’t all champagne and Etsy. There are legal issues that every couple should be aware of in both the run-up to the big day and in the months and years that follow.
We aren't legal experts, but, fortunately, OGR Stock Denton are, and they've kindly put together a few legal points for couples to keep in mind when getting married.
Legal things to bear in mind when you marry
When you’re in the run up to your civil partnership or marriage, we totally understand that the last think you’ll want to have to think about is the legal side of things. Yes; choosing who to invite, choosing suits or dresses, and planning the honeymoon may be miles more fun, but it can all go slightly awry if you aren’t prepared for - or at least aware - of some of the legal changes that may occur.
There are differences in the legal things you’ll have to consider when comparing a civil partnership to same-sex marriage, but the main legal aspects are practically exactly the same.
Of course, any legal aspects you may encounter will vary depending on your individual circumstances (things such as getting married abroad, your current financial situation, if you plan on changing your name or not...) but we thought it wise to offer a general guide for you to follow should you need it.
So, in no particular order...
· Venue contract- if you’ve already found your dream venue, great! However, bear in mind that – as easy as it is to get caught up in the looks and feel of the venue – you want to make sure to check the contract to see what you’re covered for, what the fee you’re paying actually covers, if there're any hidden fees...you don’t want any nasty surprises just before your big day, after all.
· Money/property- we understand that both money and property are rather sensitive subjects at times, but it’s always best to plan ahead instead of having to deal with any issues further down the line. Again, the issues you’ll have to deal with will depend on your individual circumstances, but there’s never any harm in thinking about the legal differences surrounding joint bank accounts, property rights, etc. If you’re struggling with any of this – and we can’t say we blame you – a solicitor should be able to assist you.
· Pre-civil partnership agreements- any pre-civil partnership or pre-nuptial agreements aren’t legally binding in England, but they are in Scotland. They aren’t compulsory, but they can be beneficial to you as a couple – whatever occurs further down the line. They can increase financial stability, be a basis for spousal support (should you need it), and can even reduce conflict.
· Taxes- the UK government are currently offering an allowance to those in a civil partnership or married. For the tax year 2015 to 2016 those married or in a civil partnership could cut their tax bill by between £322 and £835.50 a year. They have a calculator that you can use to work out if you qualify for the allowance and how much you can get.
· Changing your name- if you choose to change your name after your marriage or civil partnership, make sure that you get your name changed on any important documents you may have - things such as driving licenses, to any insurance plans you may have, to bank accounts.
· Giving notice- you and your partner must give at least 28 days notice of your intention to register a civil partnership or marriage to the local register office where you live. You must do this in person, and will have to give the register office certain personal details + documentary evidence. What you need to bring/provide may vary by area and by your personal circumstances, so we recommend contacting your register office of choice to confirm this.
· Getting married abroad? – many people get married or have their civil partnership registered abroad, only to find out that it isn’t also legally binding in the UK. It’s highly important that you make sure that yours is, to avoid any major problems in the future.
· What it may mean for your will- it’s not exactly a nice thing to think about when planning a future with your partner, but it’s important to consider anyway. Any changes to your will are going to depend on your individual circumstances; we advise contacting a solicitor for more help with this often tricky subject.
· Pension- again, not exactly the first thing you’ll think about when planning a civil partnership, but it’s important regardless. A civil partnership will bring a new set of rights regarding your state pension. With a private pension, you can change your nominated beneficiary to your partner if it isn’t them already.
We know, we know; there’s already so much for you to think about in the run-up to your wedding day. As fun as planning cakes and outfits is, all of the legal aspects of the day are important for you to consider, too.
It’s highly likely that you’ll struggle to get to grips with some aspects of the legalities surrounding civil partnerships, though. Instead of winging it, we advise that you contact a trusted solicitor, who will have you on the right track again in no time, and will leave you with one less thing to worry about in the time before your big day!
OGR Stock Denton is here to help with all your legal questions in the run up to your wedding and in all other areas of your life.