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Will you be my valentine?

Divorce solicitor

Whilst there is much folk lore, myth and mystery associated with the origins of Valentine’s Day, one thing is clear: Valentine’s Day is difficult to ignore.

This blog looks at Valentine’s Day from the perspective of those couples at the start of their marriage and those couples where it is sadly coming to an end.

And with a view to keeping things light-hearted, we’ve inserted a few song lyrics throughout – tweet us @divorcexpert if you can name the artists who sang them!

I think I wanna marry you

With love in the air, Valentine’s Day may seem the ideal time to propose. But have you thought of everything?

Can I have your daughter for the rest of my life?

The tradition of asking the bride’s father’s permission has recently been highlighted in the media with a song about the ordeal getting to number 1 and the parody version of a father’s response

There is no legal requirement for a groom to ask for the bride’s father’s permission to get married, but some do make the symbolic gesture of asking for the bride’s father’s blessing.

With most parents continuing to play a part in their children’s lives well into adulthood and beyond, particularly in terms of providing free childcare for their grandchildren, it is important to get off on the right foot with the in-laws.

Equally, telling your strongly feminist wife that you’ve asked for her father’s permission might not go down too well either!

As with most things in married life, the key thing is communication and understanding expectations: discuss matters with your intended spouse beforehand and agree how it would be best to approach matters.

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend

Whoever is making the proposal, one thing is for sure: unless you specify that the gift of an engagement ring is conditional upon the wedding going ahead, you would not be able get it back if your fiancé / fiancée changes his or her mind.

And if things do go wrong between engagement and the big day itself, you would not have any legal recourse for damages for breach of promises either.

If an engaged couple do separate prior to marriage and there are assets to be divided, the starting point would be the general principles of property law. Technically, if you’re having difficulties determining who owns which sofa or bookcase, you could potentially (despite the name) rely on the provisions of the Married Women’s Property Act 1882. In reality, however, the costs of pursuing such a claim are likely to far outweigh the assets in dispute.

We want pre-nup!

As part of the preparations prior to the wedding, an increasing number of couples are considering pre-nuptial agreements as a way of determining how their finances should be divided if they did ever separate in the future.

At Maguire Family Law we are seeing an increasing broad range of couples who want to deal with matters in this way; it is not just for those couples where one of the parties is a multi-millionaire.

Pre-nuptial agreements are not 100% binding on any future court which might have to take a decision about a couples finances on separation. However, providing they are prepared properly, they are highly persuasive. Part of that proper preparation includes making sure that they are prepared well in advance of the wedding and that both parties obtain legal advice.

It must have been love

For some couples, Valentine’s Day is another symptom of an already floundering marriage. Perhaps your spouse completely dismisses the efforts you have gone to in order to show them your love; or perhaps you discover that the beautiful piece of jewellery you happened across in his coat pocket wasn’t actually a present for you?


If you do come to the conclusion that your marriage has irretrievably broken down, then your spouse’s behaviour may become the foundation of a future divorce. The examples of unreasonable behaviour are entirely subjective and it is only you who has to find them unreasonable.

How you announce your decision to divorce should also be considered carefully – this is quite a novel approach: request for divorce

Lipstick on your collar

Where some couples struggle with the law is that the behaviour upon which you have based the divorce will not necessarily be taken into account when the court comes to look at the division of your financial assets.

One of the circumstances we hear the most is where one of the parties has started a relationship with someone else. Where the divorce is based on adultery, this is highly unlikely to have any effect on the division of assets.

Although ‘conduct’ is one of the factors that the court can take into account, this is qualified and it has to be conduct ‘that it would in the opinion of the court be inequitable to disregard’. Case law shows that this means conduct such as attempted murder or gambling away all of the family’s money.

Go your own way

Having been through the emotional turmoil of deciding to separate, the last thing you may feel like doing is committing everything in down in writing. However, if there are financial assets to be divided, you should consider formalising this in an agreement so that there can be no doubts in the future as to what it was that you both intended to happen.

With the passage of time, memories fade, and new partners or a change in the law may re-ignite issues which had previously been settled. The best way to achieve financial certainty is to ensure that a court order dealing with financial issues is filed with the court following a divorce.

Nothing compares to you

Whether you are a sceptic who thinks the day has been hyped up by the greetings card industry or a hopeless romantic who hopes to be showered in heart-shaped chocolate treats, Valentine’s Day can be a tricky occasion for many couples. If this Valentine’s Day leaves you in need of some family law advice, then please get in touch with one of the team at Maguire Family Law for a consultation by telephone: +44 (0) 1625 544650 or email:

For specialist advice on any family law related issue contact Maguire Family Law by email: or telephone:

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