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The lesser known benefits of saying “I do ……”

Published: 28 January 2022
Time to read: 3 mins

If you are planning a wedding in 2022 or are just curious about what some of the lesser known “benefits” of being married are, then read on.

As a legal contract marriage brings with it some financial protection but when you say “for better or for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health…” what does that actually mean in legal terms?

• Once you are married, everything that you and your spouse acquire becomes “matrimonial property.” This covers everything from the family home to the teaspoons within it. In fact if you acquire the family home or the contents for it before you are married, with a view to it being used by the two of you after you are married, that too can become “matrimonial property.” There are two exceptions to this. If you inherit anything in the course of the marriage or are gifted anything by a third party then that is not “matrimonial property.” Although inevitably money gifted by a third party or inherited gets spent on items for the family and so gets converted into matrimonial property. Marriage is the ultimate partnership and once you are married all the assets you acquire after that point (subject to those two exceptions) become the property of the marriage.

• Once married, spouses have an obligation to “aliment” each other. That is an obligation to provide such support ( most often a monthly sum of money and/or somewhere to live) as is reasonable in the circumstances having regard to the needs and resources ; the earning capacities; and generally all the circumstance that apply to the spouses. It is a mutual obligation owed by each spouse to the other dependent on their whole circumstances. It does not usually take into account how each spouse behaves towards the other unless it would be unfair to ignore this.

• Spouses acquire certain automatic rights of inheritance, in the other’s estate, on death. Don’t forget to review your Will when you get married to ensure it reflects your wishes.

• You cannot be excluded from the family home, once you are married, unless your spouse gets a Court Order. It does not matter if your name is not on the title or lease, you cannot be excluded or locked out. Conversely, a Court can exclude you from a property where the lease or title is in your sole name if your behaviour is impacting on your spouse or children.

• There are tax benefits to being married, including in relation to Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax. Find out more here about reviewing your tax position in relation to any shared or individual assets..

• You can get Divorced. That may not seem to be a “benefit” but there is a regime to deal with sorting out the finances and ongoing financial support, if required. You may not like the regime (or any of the benefits set out above) in which case you might want to know that …

• You can ,either before or after getting married, enter into a Pre Nuptial or Post Nuptial Agreement with your spouse and make your own contract with them as long as it is “fair and reasonable at the time it was entered in to”. This allows spouses to protect an asset or assets from a claim in the event of a future separation.

The above is a very brief overview of some of the benefits arising from marriage. If you have any questions following on from this, please contact us and a member of our Family Law Team would be happy to help.

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