Unmarried Couples

Unmarried Couples

Unmarried CouplesNowadays, more and more couples choose to live together before getting married or entering into a civil partnership, with significant numbers deciding against a legal union at any time. Despite their relationships being akin to those of married couples and civil partners, unmarried couples are treated very differently by the law. There is no such thing as a ‘common law’ wife or husband; if you live with your partner and are unmarried, you do so as cohabitees. Accordingly, given the lack of protection the law gives you, it’s essential that you and your partner take steps to safeguard your future.

Our family law solicitors, with their extensive expertise and experience in supporting unmarried couples, are ideally placed to help you take the measures required to protect your position in the event your relationship ends, or your partners sadly dies.

Please call us now on 01603 672222 for a no-obligation conversation today or Click Here To Make An Online Enquiry.

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What Rights Do Unmarried Couples Enjoy?

Unmarried couples do not enjoy the same rights as their married counterparts or civil partners. In fact, your rights are extremely limited. Take the home you share, for example. Whilst married couples and civil partners benefit from Matrimonial Home Rights that allow them to remain living in the matrimonial home when their relationship breaks down, unmarried couples do not. This means that if the property is registered in your partner’s sole name, you may be forced to leave if your relationship ends. Furthermore, if your partner dies, you have no automatic entitlement to a share of their estate under the intestacy rules and may find yourself in the unenviable position of your joint assets being inherited by an individual who had little to do with your partner when they were alive.

How Can Unmarried Couples Protect Themselves?

Given the lack of legal protection, it is incumbent on you and your partner take proactive steps protect your positions. Our family law solicitors will advise on the options available for doing so, which may include the following:

• Consider Who Should Own The Property You Share

If your partner owns the property you share in their sole name, you will have no right to live there if your relationship ends or inherit it if they die. You should, therefore, consider amending the title deeds to reflect any contributions you have made to the property and ensure you receive a fair share. Our family law solicitors will advise on the best way to achieve this in your circumstances.

• Make A Will

Everyone should make a Will to ensure the assets they have worked so hard to accumulate during their lifetime go to those they love when they die. If you don’t, your estate will be distributed in accordance with the intestacy rules. Whilst the rules recognise spouses and civil partners, they do not recognise unmarried partners. So, if you wish your partner to inherit your estate, you must make a Will naming them as a beneficiary. We have a dedicated Wills and Probate team that works closely with our family law solicitors to ensure our clients’ Wills accurately record their wishes.

• Cohabitation Agreements

Cohabitation Agreements are a cost-effective, convenient way for unmarried couples to document their intentions for their relationship and to minimise the scope for lengthy disputes if their relationship ends.

Couples usually use Cohabitation Agreements to detail what should happen in the event of a split, but you can also use the agreement to address pertinent issues such as next-of-kin rights. Examples of the types of issues couples often address in Cohabitation Agreements include the following:

  • how assets should be divided if the relationship ends
  • next of kin rights
  • where the children should live if the relationship breaks down
  • how pre-owned assets should be dealt with
  • maintenance payments

You can enter a Cohabitation Agreement at any stage of your relationship, but the sooner you do so, the better. To be legally enforceable, a Cohabitation Agreement must be carefully drafted and fulfil the applicable legal criteria. Our family law solicitors have prepared countless Cohabitation Agreements and will ensure yours is as watertight as possible, accurately records your intentions, and has the best chance of being upheld should you need to call on it in the future.

• Make Lasting Powers Of Attorney

Lasting Powers of Attorney are invaluable in empowering your partner to make important decisions relating to your finances and health if there comes a time when you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. If you do not have Lasting Powers of Attorney in place naming your partner as your attorney, those decisions may fall to individuals with little appreciation of your wishes.

We have specialist Lasting Powers of Attorney solicitors who will help you put the relevant documentation in place and advise you on its effects.

How Can We Help?

As specialist family law solicitors, our family team has extensive experience in all issues faced by unmarried couples. They will guide you through every stage of your relationship, from protecting your interests at the outset to fighting your corner if your relationship ends. They always seek the quickest, most cost-effective, and least acrimonious route available to resolve an issue, seeking a fair and just outcome that is in your and your family’s best interests.

Please call us now on 01603 672222 for a no-obligation conversation today or Click Here To Make An Online Enquiry.

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