Pre-Civil Partnership Agreements
Same sex couples now have to all intents and purposes, the same rights, obligations and entitlements as those which heterosexual married couples have enjoyed ever since the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 came into effect.
Before entering into Civil Partnership, both parties should consider the same financial forward planning, just as heterosexual couples do before marriage. A Pre-Civil Partnership Agreement gives the parties an opportunity to protect their pre-acquired assets, in the event the Partnership does not stand the test of time. A Pre-Civil Partnership Agreement is the same as a Pre-Marital Agreement, in all but name. It sets out what each party's financial circumstances are before the registration of the Civil Partnership. It sets out what each party would like to happen, so far as those assets are concerned, in the event that the Partnership is dissolved. Drawing up an Agreement using the Collaborative Law process is ideal, as it involves the parties negotiating face to face. After all, when a couple is about to embark on a lifelong relationship, it isn't really appropriate for each of them to have lawyers writing formal letters about the consequences of the relationship ending before it has really begun.
Case law governs the use of Pre-Civil Partnership Agreements, and in effect it is recognised providing that;
- each party can make an informed decision
- each party knows the implications of the document hey are signing
- the Pre-Civil Partnership Agreement is entered in to in good time before the Civil Partnership (E.g. not the day before the ceremony!);
There is every chance that a Court will give effect to the parties' wishes in the event that the relationship ends in dissolution. Providing couples follow these guidelines, there can be few reasons why the Court would not follow the parties' wishes and apply the terms of the Pre- Civil Partnership Agreement.
Preparing a Pre-Civil Partnership Agreement is a relatively straightforward procedure. It gives each partner, financial peace of mind. It is a form of insurance; we would not think of going on holiday without taking out holiday insurance to cover any problems/accidents. Holiday insurance does not jinx the holiday. A Pre-Civil Partnership Agreement will not jinx the Civil Partnership.
Solicitors have been drawing up Pre-Marital Agreements for heterosexual couples for many years. The procedure is the same; it represents sensible forward financial planning.
We can offer fixed fees for drawing up a straightforward Pre-Civil Partnership Agreement.
Please contact Elizabeth Hodder at eah@gross.REMOVE-THIS-BARRIER-BEFORE-SENDING.co.uk or Julie McDonald at jm@gross.REMOVE-THIS-BARRIER-BEFORE-SENDING.co.uk for further answers.
One very good reason to consider a pre-civil partnership agreement
On 29th March 2012, the Court of Appeal handed down a Judgment in the case of Gallagher –v– Lawrence which is of enormous importance to those in Civil Partnerships or those thinking of entering a Civil Partnership.
In this case, the Partnership lasted 7 months. However, the relationship between the parties lasted 11 years and 7 months.
The Court of Appeal gave one of the parties to the Partnership a share of assets acquired by the other partner, prior to the relationship.
The Court of Appeal flagged up the fact that the principles to be applied when dividing up assets following the dissolution of a Civil Partnership, should be exactly the same as the principles applied to dividing up the fruits of a marriage for heterosexual couples.
Since the advent of Civil Partnerships there has been uncertainty on this very issue, and lawyers have been waiting for a case like this to set the terms of reference for future dissolutions of Civil Partnerships.
For the financially “weaker” of the couple, this case gives both clarity and comfort in the knowledge the Court will not automatically ring-fence the pre-acquired assets of the financially stronger of the couple.
On the other side of the coin, this case flags up the need for a couple to consider having a Pre-Civil Partnership agreement drawn up (the same-sex version of a Pre-Marital Agreement).
In the landmark case of Radmacher, last year, practitioners were told that providing a Pre-Marital Agreement was entered into properly and with the benefit of legal advice, a Court will uphold its terms.
Now more than ever before, the time is ripe for those about to enter civil partnership to consider having a pre-civil partnership agreement.
20 April 2012
Elizabeth A Hodder