Getting Married in Lockdown

I get asked about how to get divorced a lot, but am not often asked about how to get married. I started thinking about this following a much-needed happy story I read about someone I knew from university. 

Jenny and Phil were due to be married a couple of weeks ago, but coronavirus meant their wedding had to be postponed.  Like so many couples across Scotland, it was not possible for them to be married as a decision has been taken by the National Records of Scotland that marriages and civil partnerships will not take place in the pandemic period.  Yet this was not going to stop Jenny and Phil: they got “emotionally married” instead.

I cannot imagine how you would cope the cancellation of a carefully planned wedding.  And so it takes very special people to be able to come up with a workaround to still be able to enjoy and share their day with friends and family.  For Jenny and Phil, they went for a walk, read their vows, got dressed for the occasion, Zoom-called their guests and drank plenty of champagne. A perfect way to turn a bad situation into a celebration.  And they then get to do it all again later this year. 

The lawyer side of my brain kicked in as I started to consider the status of their relationship.  An emotional wedding does not give rise to a formal, legally recognised, marriage- and while we are at it there is no longer common law marriage in Scotland.  Even so, their relationship, as cohabitants, is formally recognised in Scotland – see Stephanie’s post about this

I also wondered why people don’t routinely seek out a lawyer before they get married.  My guess is that (1) the National Records of Scotland, your local authority and your chosen celebrant are able to explain the process and legal requirements and (2) most people feel they understand what they are signing up to when they marry so have no need for a lawyer.

Yet, most need a lawyer for separation and divorce. And so my question is this: would the divorce rate change if people obtained advice from a lawyer before they were married?  Whilst “the big day” will still be very special when it happens, should people be advised that the most important thing is not “wedding” but the marriage? Would having some advice about the rights flowing from marriage put people off or make them think about a pre-nup? 

I leave open these questions for another day. Really, I just wanted to share some good news and wish the happy couple good luck!