Think ahead to clear the way for a happy, lasting relationship

With Valentine’s Day this month, it may seem unromantic to be writing about planning for breaking up, but please bear with me.

We’re all full of optimism when we marry or start living together but the pressures of everyday life undermine that, and situations change as life moves on.  Differing expectations can cause real rifts which can fracture a relationship and lead to separation and divorce.  Clear communication and agreeing expectations can avoid this occurring.

Ideally, couples need to discuss frankly what their expectations are of one another at the start of their relationship, not simply financially but in terms of having children, occupational mobility and even the division of household chores.  If you plan for potential challenges, and agree the solutions, this will make the relationship stronger and increase the prospects of remaining together for life – surely the ultimate romantic goal.

The most obvious source of imbalance creeping into a relationship occurs when the children come along and financially it makes sense for one parent to assume more child caring responsibilities.  Perhaps one of you receives a fantastic job offer, which would involve uprooting the family and it will be difficult for your partner to find suitable work in the new area or country.  Different couples will have different pressure points, and the unexpected may happen years along the line, so any agreement should be reviewed either at regular intervals or at trigger events.

Depending on whether you are intending to live together or to marry, the agreement to use would be either a Cohabitation or a Prenuptial Agreement, and may be coupled with a declaration of trust if property is owned.  There are formalities in drafting the agreement to ensure it is enforceable, and for married couples and civil partners there is a range of statute and case law to be navigated.  If you do decide that an agreement is sensible, then take legal advice from an experienced family lawyer who can guide you through to an enforceable agreement that meets your needs.

This article provides only a general summary and is not intended to be comprehensive.  Special legal advice should be taken in any individual situation.

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