What’s next after coming out?
Coming out is often an extremely emotional time, however, revealing your sexuality in later life can also bring additional challenges in terms of family arrangements and finances.
Whilst these topics may be tricky to discuss, early communication with family and friends can help to minimise the risk of family conflict and make sure loved ones are protected for the future.
Preparation is key
It is sensible to consider your current financial and legal arrangements, including your existing will and powers of attorney before telling your friends and family, especially if you are unsure of how they will react.
A legal adviser can offer advice ahead of time and assist in the formulation of a contingency plan, allowing you to quickly safeguard your interests, should any family relationships come under strain as a result of the news.
Give it time
It is important to remember that family and friends may need some time to process your news – their initial reaction might be out of emotion and they may not always feel that way. In terms of moving forward, discussions from both a financial and a personal perspective will need to be had, but the timings and outcome for every couple will be unique. Whilst separation and divorce may be best for some, the idea of staying together and living as companions may better suit others.
Thinking about divorce
Currently, UK law dictates that adultery can only occur between members of the opposite sex. With this in mind, should either partner decide to leave the marriage, providing they’ve not been separated for two years or more, a divorce application would have to be issued on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour. Under these circumstances, the person making the application must show that the other party has behaved in such a way that the Applicant cannot reasonably be expected to live with him or her, causing the marriage to irretrievably break down.
In this situation, seeking support from an accredited family lawyer is advisable and often results in a far better outcome for all involved.
In the absence of any children, the separation process and division of assets can be relatively simple. However, where children are involved, the process can be more complicated, often requiring arrangements for maintenance payments and provisions for the children’s futures to be made.
Should a new relationship be formed, it is often important to ensure that children from the first marriage are provided for. Financial agreements, such as a Living Together Agreements/Cohabitation Agreements, can protect assets owned prior to living with a new partner, ensuring complete transparency around who owns what. For those intending to remarry, a prenuptial agreement is also advisable in order to help to ringfence the assets brought into the marriage and clarify those that are to be kept separate. Re-marriage will automatically revoke any previous Will you may have prepared – it is important to ensure that a new Will is prepared as soon as possible before or after the re-marriage, particularly if you have children from the previous marriage that you wish to benefit.
As with the breakdown of any relationship, open communication, allowing time for family to accept the news and specialist legal support can help to safeguard the future for loved ones and pave the way for a new chapter.
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