Many people are getting married later in life and older couples are getting divorced in greater numbers.

According to data from the Office for National Statistics, there has been an increase in the marriage rates for those over 65.  Only 8% of those getting married were doing so for the first time.

Marrying later in life means there are more issues to navigate and often, more assets to protect.   This applies to both those who are remarrying and those who are marrying at an older age, for the first time.

Marwa Hadi-Barnes explains what you need to consider.

1) Enter into a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement

If you are not yet married, it would be advisable to have a pre-nuptial agreement prepared. Pre-nuptial agreements are not formally binding.  However, since the landmark case of Radmacher v Grantino in 2010, you can expect the agreement to be upheld provided it meets qualifying criteria and is entered into properly.

Marrying later in life means you are more likely to have built up financial assets.  This is likely to include a property, savings and pensions.   You are likely to be more financially independent and hold various assets in your own name.

If the marriage breaks down, there is more at risk. To help achieve some financial certainty, it is therefore advisable to consider entering into a pre-nuptial agreement which can protect those assets that you wish to protect. It can also specify how the finances will be dealt with in the event of marriage breakdown.

If you are already married, it is not too late to enter into a contract.  You can have a post-nuptial agreement prepared which can offer the same protection.

2) Check any financial order you have in place

If you were previously married, you are likely to have a court order in place.  This may have been made by consent or have been imposed on you by the court.

The order may provide that you are to receive periodical payments.  This is maintenance that is payable to you as a former spouse or civil partner.  It is paid to you for your benefit as to for the benefit of your children.

The maintenance to you as a former spouse/civil partner, will automatically end on your remarriage.  You should factor this is when budgeting for the future.  For some, this even impacts on their decision to remarry.

You may reside in a property which your former spouse/civil partner still has some form of interest in.  A court order may specify that they are to receive their share in the property on your remarriage.

Cohabitation may also have an impact on maintenance or any property your former spouse/civil partner has an interest in.  It is important to take advice on your order beforehand.

3) Check any pension payments

If you are widowed, you may be receiving a “survivor’s pension”.  With some pension schemes, the rules provide that this is lost on remarriage.   You may also lose this if you cohabit.

This depends on the type of pension scheme and it is important you take further advice.

4) Make a Will

Many of those remarrying or marrying later in life have children, whether dependant or otherwise.  If you want to ensure that your children benefit from your estate in the event of your death, it is important to make a Will or review a Will if you have already made one.

If you are married already

If you do not have a Will, then the rules of intestacy will apply.  Your spouse or civil partner will therefore benefit from some, if not all your estate.  If you have children from a previous marriage and you wish for them to inherit your estate entirely, then you need to make a Will that provides for this.

If you do have a Will and this was made before you were married, unless it was made in contemplation of your marriage, this will be revoked.  Again, the rules of intestacy will apply.

If you are not yet married

If you are not yet married, it is advisable to have a Will prepared.  If you ensure this is made in contemplation of your marriage, this remains valid during your marriage.

5) Check your property ownership

If you plan on purchasing a property jointly, then it is important to decide on whether you will hold the property as “joint tenants” or “tenants in common”.

If you hold the property as joint tenants, then your share in the property will automatically pass to the other owner in the event of your death.

If you hold the property as tenants in common, then your share in the property will pass by way of your Will (or the rules of intestacy if you do not have a Will).

It is important to ensure that the property ownership accurately reflects how you wish for the property to dealt with in the event of your death.  This is particularly relevant if you have children from a previous marriage or relationship.

6) Communication is key

It is unfortunate, but second marriages reportedly have a lower success rate. When marrying later in life, the “modern family” dynamic may be more complicated.  There will be more issues to navigate.

Frequently, there are children from previous marriages/relationship.  Even if the children are older, they tend to remain living at home for longer.   It is not unusual to have adults in their twenties still living with their parents.  This living arrangement may not be conducive to a new relationship.

Marrying later in life means you are each likely to have a level of financial independence.  If your intention is not to mingle your finances, then it may be sensible to agree this in advance to avoid issues once you are married.

For further information or to book a free initial consultation, please contact the family law team on 01403 627 853 or by email family@lewisdenley.com

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