Unmarried

Unmarried couples who live together have fewer legal rights than a married couple, and if their relationship breaks down, there are very different legal implications.

 

However, there are ways you can protect yourself and action you can take.

 

Our specialist family lawyers in Jersey will work with you to identify all the issues that may impact on you and advise how to address these in the most appropriate, sensitive and cost-effective way.

 

Check out our FAQs for more information

If couples wish to enter into financial arrangements with one another (for example, buying property), Confidante can help clients agree the terms and draft the content of a cohabitation agreement (which embodies what should happen in the event the relationship breaks down).

 

Confidante can also assist clients with the interpretation and enforcement of an existing cohabitation agreement and/or its re-negotiation.

Confidante can help parties to agree and draft the terms of a Separation Agreement or deal with the interpretation and enforcement of an agreement already in place.

Please click here for information about children.

 

Other resources

 

Check out;

 

i) Episode 2 of our Podcast series - “The many ways mediation can help” during which we talk to Family Mediation Jersey  about how mediation can help parents struggling to agree on child related matters such as where a child should live, contact arrangements or child maintenance;

 

ii) Episode 3 of our Podcast series - “How to help you help your kids” during which we talk to a divorce parenting expert about how parents can deliver the news of a change in the family dynamic to the children in the best possible way, how to help children to cope with those changes and how to co-parent well;

 

iii) Our Checklist “How to help your children in divorce / separation”;

 

iv) This excellent Guide prepared by Resolution which walks parents through a relationship breakdown and what to expect when it comes to the children”; and

 

v) If you are struggling to agree on arrangements in respect of the children, take a look at this Parenting Plan prepared by JFCAS. If you would benefit from a Parenting Plan which will help avoid future disagreements and allow you to focus on raising your children, get in touch and see how we can help

UNMARRIED FAQS

Separation:

Yes, you can get prepared by drafting a Separation Agreement which is a really good way to record what should happen in the interim and can include;

 

i) how you intend to separate your finances;
ii) where the children are going to live or how they will divide their time and general arrangements in respect of them; and
iii) how you are going to meet the costs of the children.

 

A Separation Agreement can be as detailed or as brief as you like but the fuller it is, the less room there is for debate in the future.

 

Speak to a lawyer and get advice around your options. Engaging a lawyer to help you draft a Separation Agreement is a good investment.

It is unlikely that you will agree on everything but ensuring a bigger picture view can help. The art of compromise is also key and focusing on what is really important.

 

If the dispute relates to the children, it is essential that each parent considers what most serves the children’s best interests. Depending upon their age, the children’s wishes may also be taken into account (although this should be dealt with very carefully and advice is recommended).

 

Other services can help too such as couples counselling and/or mediation. These services offer a forum for parties to discuss areas in dispute in the least acrimonious way. It is helpful to give real consideration to these services. Exhausting more cost effective options first is sensible.

 

Check out our Podcast series here for information on couples counselling, mediation and co-parenting.

If you are in the early stages of the process, you probably have a lot of questions and concerns and feel like you don’t know where to start. Be assured, this is totally normal.

 

Check out Checklist 1 which will help guide you through the practical steps you should be considering.

Pre and post nuptial agreements:

A pre nuptial agreement is entered into before the marriage and a post nuptial agreement is entered into after the marriage.

These agreements typically set out what the parties would like the financial outcome to be in the unfortunate event of a divorce.

 

The purpose is to avoid a dispute around what should happen to the finances at a time when discussing such matters is likely to be more difficult because of the relationship breakdown.

Commonly, these agreements are entered into to protect certain assets/income from being included in the division of the finances in the event of a divorce, for example;

 

  • if one of the parties is due to come into money, such as inheritance or other family money;
  • if one of the parties has been married before and wishes to protect the assets secured as part of their first divorce;
  • if one of the parties has a business; or
  • if one of the parties is financially stronger coming into the marriage.

Pre nuptial agreements are often designed to protect certain assets (existing or anticipated) from being taking into account in the context of divorce proceedings.

 

Alternatively, pre nuptial agreements can simply set out what the outcome should be in the unfortunate event of a divorce to avoid an argument at that point.

 

If you consider that you may benefit from a pre nuptial agreement it is sensible to seek legal advice well in advance of the wedding.

Parties in divorce proceedings cannot override the Court's ability to decide how finances should be divided on a divorce. Therefore, neither party can be prevented from applying to the Court for financial provision on divorce. However, when deciding on an appropriate level of financial provision, the Court is likely to give weight to a pre or post nuptial agreement if it is entered into in the right way (explained further below). It is possible therefore that the pre or post nuptial agreement could be determinative.

 

The factors the Court is likely to take into account are;

 

  • Whether or not the agreement was freely entered into.
  • Individual circumstances, such as a party's age, maturity and previous experience of long-term relationships, as well as their emotional state at the time of making the agreement.
  • Whether or not the couple had a full appreciation of the implications of any agreement. It is common to append to the agreement a schedule of the assets (existing and anticipated), liabilities and income and advisable for both parties to obtain legal advice.
  • It must be fair to hold the couple to the agreement in the circumstances at the time of divorce and the agreement should meet the reasonable financial needs of the couple and their children.

 

Additionally in respect of pre nuptial agreements;

 

  • Ideally, a pre nuptial agreement should be finalised at least 28 days before the wedding. This will give enough time to consider the terms and obtain legal advice about those terms, eliminating last-minute pressure as the wedding approaches.
  • Whether or not the marriage would have gone ahead in the absence of a pre nuptial agreement.

Getting the right legal advice:

Most importantly, you should select a lawyer who has the expertise to deal with the issue in respect of which you need help.

 

In a separation situation, it is likely that you will be sharing intimate details about your relationship with your lawyer and therefore finding someone you feel comfortable with is key.

 

It is also important that you understand how your lawyer will work on your case.  Will you get direct access to your chosen lawyer or will you be dealing with more junior members of the department?

 

Finally, ask to speak to the lawyer you are thinking of engaging before you instruct them.  You can ask them questions to understand if they will be the right match for you.

It is important to know where you stand as soon as possible.  Therefore the earlier you speak to a family lawyer the better.  This may even be before you have advised your partner that the relationship is over.

 

Your lawyer can help you to strategise and ensure that you don’t take steps which are prejudicial to you and/or your children.

 

It is possible to seek early advice and then do nothing.  The important thing is that you understand your options at the earliest opportunity.

Absolutely.  If you are not happy with the legal representation, you can change your lawyer at any point.

 

However, changing lawyer part way through your case may create delay and/or increase costs (as your new lawyer will need to read in) therefore, before taking steps, it may be wise to speak to your existing lawyer to see whether you can iron out any issues you are encountering.

 

You could also consider a second opinion.

 

If you are clear that you would like a new lawyer, it is important that you properly satisfy yourself the lawyer you wish to engage is the right match for you. Arrange a call or meeting before finalising your decision.

cohabitation agreements
cohabitation agreements

Hi! I’m Advocate Carly James, a family law specialist in Jersey. Let’s start a conversation that matters.

 

We know how daunting it can be to talk to a family / divorce lawyer and potentially commence a legal process relating to divorce, separation or your children.

 

If you would like to hear a little more about who we are, whether we would be a good match for you or when we can get started, get in touch and let’s start the conversation.

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Get in touch

You can schedule a complimentary 20 minute call by clicking here or fill out the below form and we will be in touch shortly.

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