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We know that the law, and all things legal, are not very romantic topics, but most relationships will encounter the law at some point, and most will be underpinned by it. Whether you are just getting together, moving in with your partner, getting married or, sadly, divorcing or dying, our love lives are forever linked with the law.

This Valentine’s Day, we discuss the life cycle of relationships when it comes to the law in England and Wales.

Engagement ring – who gets to keep it?


Proposing to your loved one should be a major milestone in your long, happy life as a couple, but it might also be the first time that the law has an impact on your relationship or sometimes it could be the start of your legal queries. Engagements are not legally binding in any way, but giving an engagement ring is considered a gift by law.

In the case of a broken engagement, if there was no agreement, the recipient keeps the engagement ring. The recipient is under no obligation to return the ring, the Law Reform Act 1970 states that: “The gift of an engagement ring shall be presumed to be an absolute gift; this presumption may be rebutted by proving that the ring was given on the condition, express or implied, that it should be returned if the marriage did not take place for any reason.”

Prenups – will they kill the romance?


The benefits of a prenuptial agreement include clearly distinguishing of marital property from separate property, documenting special arrangements, assigning the debt to the right spouse, and more.

A prenup is a personal decision between you and your partner and if you are thinking about going through the process you should consider it as an honest discussion about your finances during and after marriage.

To find out if you need a prenup read our blog.


Marriage doesn’t suit everyone, but in the eyes of law cohabiting couples don’t have the same rights as married couples.

The widespread “common-law marriage” myth that couples that live together for a long number of years have the same legal rights as a married couple is just not correct.

To make sure you and your partner’s interests are protected and if you would like to have some legal rights when it comes to finances, property and children you should consider making a will or a cohabitation agreement.

Marriage and Civil Partnerships


Marriage in the UK is legally recognised in the forms of both civil and religious marriage. Religious marriages need to be conducted by an authorised minister, priest or pastor and civil marriages need to be conducted but a state registrar.

In England and Wales, you can get married or form a civil partnership if you are 16 or over-under 18-year olds need their parents or guardian’s permission. You cannot get married if you are already married or in a civil partnership.

Before the marriage or civil partnership, you must give notice at least 29 days before. To give a notice you need to book an appointment and bring your ID and documents to prove your address, any name changes and details of your ceremony.

After you give your notice you must get married or form a civil partnership within 12 months.

Name change


If you want to change your name after marriage or civil partnership to take your partner’s name your documents will be updated for free. Usually, a deed poll, which is a legal document is needed to prove a change of name.

To change your name after marriage or civil partnership all you have to do is send a copy of your marriage or civil partnership certificate to record-holders and all relevant authorities.


Sometimes things just don’t work out and a divorce can be the best thing for your family. As the law currently stands, you can only get divorced if you have been married for at least a year and your marriage is permanently broken down.

When filing for a divorce in England, you and your partner will need to prove valid grounds in order to get divorced. Read our blog on how to get a divorce to find out all the valid grounds for divorce.

Things are going to change for divorce laws in 2020 as the UK government announced it will introduce legislation to overhaul the divorce system and that a new no-fault divorce law will be brought into force making it easier for couples to divorce.



As a young couple with a young family or a future family making a will might be the last thing you want to do, but it should be part of your to-do list. If you die without a will, you will leave your spouse and family with financial worries.

Decide what is best for your family, who you want to benefit from your will, who should look after your children and who is going to look after your assets.

Read our blog to find out why should young parents make a will.


Our team of highly skilled lawyers can offer assistance in all areas of family law, including relationship breakdown involving unmarried couples, pre-nuptial agreements and more. Please get in contact today via the contact form on our website or by calling us your local DMA office.