Cheryl Cole has revealed that she has married her French boyfriend, Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini after what has reportedly been a three month relationship.
Whilst arguably a whirlwind wedding in Mustique sounds very romantic I can’t help but wonder whether they, or any of the many couples who marry quickly, have any idea about the profound change in their legal status which marriage entails.
You can cohabit for 20 years and have no financial claim to any of your partner’s assets or income at the end of that relationship, however, as soon as you marry the position changes, regardless of how long you have been in a relationship.
Once married a person, upon divorce, can make an application in England and Wales under Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 for lump sum, property adjustment orders (ie selling or transferring property), orders relating to pensions and maintenance orders.
A further complicating factor for Cheryl and Jean-Bernard is that other competing jurisdictions, such as France, could be involved and will have their own laws about marriage and division of assets.
I wish Cheryl and Jean-Bernard all the very best and hope that they never need give any thought as to what may happen upon divorce but for the rest of us if you are planning to get married, whether quickly or following a long relationship, and you are unsure about the change to your legal status and/or issues regarding the protection of wealth you should take legal advice before you walk down the aisle. It may not be the most romantic action you have ever taken but it may be the most sensible.