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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

Wedding presents money can’t buy

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There are many things you can plan for a wedding day and some things you can’t. The dress, the photographer, the flowers and the disco in the evening are fairly straightforward. The guest list and seating plan can be trickier, but you can be sure that someone like the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh are not going to just turn up on the day. Except that wasn’t quite the case for John and Frances Canning, married at Manchester Town Hall last week, when HRH, in the city as part of her Diamond Jubilee tour, did actually drop into the ceremony to pass on their congratulations.

“It was the wedding gift money couldn’t buy,” they said. I’ll bet it was. They’re probably unique in the world on this one.

They had known well in advance that the Queen was going to be in the city and visiting the town hall during the day but had been told she would not be making an appearance. However, when she did call in to pass on her best wishes, she’s not really someone you can turn away is she? The shots the Queen posed for will certainly look good in the photo album.

The incident prompted a discussion with some friends of mine later that day about what we would buy someone to be truly memorable and something that you can pretty much guarantee no one else will buy. My controversial suggestion of a prenuptial agreement sparked fierce debate. I had what I would call the usual objections, in that it is unromantic and on a wedding day a couple wants to be looking at the positives rather than having one eye on what will happen if things go wrong.

My argument was along these lines: you don’t have car insurance because you want to crash or assume you are going to crash, it is just sensible to have it just in case. Setting aside for a moment the fact that car insurance is a legal requirement, you could argue that the same is true of pre-nups. It makes life easier and cheaper for both parties if something should happen in the future. A prenuptial agreement is a document in which a couple set out their rights in relation to any property, debts, income and other assets purchased together or acquired individually (eg, through inheritance), or that they have brought into a relationship. While these are still not absolutely binding in the UK, there is now strong case law that courts are unlikely to go against the terms set out in them provided they are correctly drawn up and both parties took legal advice before agreeing to them in the first instance.

I’m not sure if anyone “won” the argument and while I acknowledge that a pre-nup might not be the most romantic present, it could prove to be one that a couple treasure years later.

Andrew Woolley
Family solicitor

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