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Unmarried couples – Three Things you must do

Unmarried couples have little legal protection. There is no such thing as common law wife or husband.

We often hear people say, “We’ve been living together for ages and have children together, so I am protected by law.”

That is a dangerous assumption to make.

In a previous post, Samantha Lee, Director and Head of Family Law at Swain & Co explains,

 “There is a common misconception of ‘Common Law Spouses’”

“This is simply incorrect – there is very little legal protection for unmarried couples living together when they separate or a partner dies.”

The Office for National Statistics reports that 47.6% of births in the UK are to unmarried couples (2016 figures). This has remained fairly stable. And of these births to unmarried couples, 60% of the parents are living together.

There have been talks of increased rights for unmarried couples. But, as yet, nothing has come of it.

So the fact remains that there is little legal protection for unmarried couples.

What can you do?

There are various things you can do to protect yourself and any children.

  1. Get a Cohabitation Agreement

    1. This is an agreement that you both agree to which will set out what you want to do with your assets if the relationship were to come to an end. It can just provide some security for you both, especially if there are children involved. It can take out the acrimony of separation, which is always best kept to a minimum
  2. Buying a home - Ensure you register correctly with Land Registry

    1. You can be ‘Joint Tenants’ and share the property equally. The other owner will automatically get your share when you die. You cannot pass ownership to someone else in a will
    2. Or you can be ‘Tenants in Common’ and own different shares. The other owner does not automatically get your share when you die. You can pass your share onto another person in your will
  3. Make sure your name is on birth certificate

    1. When you have a child and are not the birth mother, and not married to the birth mother, you don’t automatically get parental responsibility. When your name is on the birth certificate, you will have parental responsibility for that child.
    2. More advice can be found on the Government Website about registering a birth

If you need help with legal rights for unmarried couples, our Family Lawyers offer free initial advice over the phone.

Call today on 02392 483322

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