Typically, most people do not spend much time thinking about the end of a relationship. However, even at the outset of a relationship if the possible breakdown is not given proper consideration, we could find ourselves in difficulty later on if there is an unfortunate conclusion. We have put together some everyday scenarios below to help you understand if you may be in need of a family lawyer.

Pre-nuptial Agreement

Picture this, you have just met the love of your life and you have decided to get married. You spend your life savings on putting down a deposit for your dream house. Your spouse doesn’t have any savings, so does not contribute towards the purchase. Throughout your marriage you pay the mortgage repayments as your spouse finds it hard to hold down a job. 10 years down the line, you come to the sad end of your marriage. You now find out that your spouse could make a claim that your dream house is sold, and they take 50% of the proceeds of sale.

Wills and Inheritance

Alternatively, imagine you worked hard all your life to build up your family wealth. You did not spend money on holidays and luxuries as your priority was always to secure your family’s future. Even on retirement you live frugally in order to preserve your assets to ensure they remain within your lineage. You decide that you want to leave your estate to your child and grandchildren. You make a will to that effect. Your child has remarried to a person you have never met. They have decided to get divorced. A stranger will get a share of your child’s inheritance and your wealth.

Accident at work

Tragically, whilst you are walking up the stairs at work you slip on a slippery surface and have an accident. You suffer a serious injury which means you can never walk again. You initiate court proceedings against your employer for your injuries and after lengthy litigation, you are finally awarded a settlement. You can never work again. You are also married. A year later your spouse files for divorce. The settlement you obtained for your injury is not safe, and may be considered part of the matrimonial assets to be divided on divorce.

Powers of Attorney

You have appointed your spouse as your attorney in the last power of attorney you registered during your marriage. After a long marriage, you decide you wish to live separately. You do not intend to divorce as neither one of you wish to get re-married, and see divorce as only an administrative process. Unfortunately you become quite ill and lose capacity. As you have named your spouse as your power of attorney, they can now make decisions on your behalf.

Co-habitation Agreement

You meet someone whilst you are living alone and renting out your own place. Your partner stays at your place for a while and occasionally pays for groceries and your petrol. Your partner accumulates enough savings to buy a flat. Your partner moves into their own flat and asks you to move in with them. You give up your own tenancy and move in with your partner into their flat. You pay for groceries and all your date nights. You do not pay rent. You understand that your partner intends to get married to you, and their flat is also your flat. One day your partner tells you they want to break up, and asks you to move out. You are left homeless, and have no right to their flat.

Separation Agreement

You and your spouse have been facing difficulties for a while, but have stayed together for the sake of the children. Finally you decide that you can no longer live together, and your spouse moves out to stay with their parents. Neither of you are ready to take the divorce step yet. Although you are living apart, you both still pay your salaries into your joint account, share the mortgage repayments on the family home, and share the bills. Finally, after 2 years of this arrangement you apply for a divorce. During the divorce proceedings you uncover that your spouse has been accumulating considerable debt. This debt is considered matrimonial and also your liability.

No doubt, the above scenarios would the worst nightmare of many people. If you have not spoken to a family lawyer for advice, or there are no existing family agreements in place, the above scenarios could easily become reality. This is why we work together with all the departments within our firm, so no matter what advice and assistance you come to us for, your interests will always be safeguarded.


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