While married couples enjoy various financial and civil rights, the same cannot be said about unmarried couples. If you two live together without getting married formally, you are treated as two unrelated people, and your legal rights are also limited. Also, post-separation, you may have to navigate several complex legal frameworks to resolve issues.
If you weren’t aware of these, this article is for you. We will help you understand your rights and how to protect them in the long run.
What is cohabiting?
When a couple in a romantic or intimate relationship decides to live together without getting married, we call it cohabiting or cohabitation. This practice is becoming increasingly common in the UK and other parts of the world.
But what about their rights?
Unmarried couples do not have the same rights as their married counterparts. These may include the right to inheritance, the right to spousal support, or the right to make medical decisions for the other partner. Irrespective of how long you have lived together, the law does not provide you with these.
Rights of Unmarried Couples UK
Although not at par with married couples, the following are your financial rights.
The property right comes in the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA 1996) and is handled by the civil courts. If an unmarried couple decides to separate, their claim to ownership rights depends on establishing the property’s legal ownership status.
In the absence of clear legal ownership, the validity rests on proving the monetary contributions made by each party. Unmarried couples with no children can keep their assets to their name. However, with children, things may get murkier.
Financial claims for children
Children’s financial support claims must be filed under either the statutory child maintenance regulations or Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 (ChA 1989). The law does not provide financial support to the other partner, even if that partner has sacrificed his career for child care.
Children of unmarried couples are entitled to financial support from both parents. The latter are legally bound to provide for the child’s welfare. Also, whichever parent the child stays with, the other parent is bound to make child maintenance payments.
Unlike married partners, cohabiting couples do not have an automatic claim benefit to their ex-partner’s pension.
How to Safeguard Your Rights as an Unmarried Couple
To live a financially independent life post-separation or after one partner’s demise, the following can be done:
When buying or renting a property to move in together, be clear about your plan to share the ownership, then write everything down in a cohabitation agreement. This would help protect your right to property and other such assets in case of a relationship breakdown.
Add partner as beneficiary.
Adding the other partner formally to your pension plan is a step that ensures that the other partner is taken care of in the event of death. To do so, contact the respective institution and make the provision.
Make a will
As per the intestacy rules, only married couples, close relatives, or civil partners can inherit the deceased’s property. Without a will, a partner is left with a financially uncertain life. So allow your possessions to the person you love, whether you are married or not well in time. Also, know that the claim can only be made if you have been living together for two or more years and he was receiving financial support from you, according to family law.
Protect your rights
If you are someone living with your partner without marriage and contemplating protecting your future, consider lawyersorted.com. Find the right solicitor with us to help you with cohabitation agreements, wills, and other such procedures.