Live together but not married? Make sure you have a living together agreement.
Radmila Balac – Partner
The year 2020 has so far seen a number of changes in Family Law with divorce law reformed to allow no fault divorce and the Domestic Abuse Bill progressing through Parliament.
Where there has been no change, sadly, however, is in relation to couples who live together but are unmarried. There has over the decades been calls to reform the law, especially given the reality is that so many families comprise of parents not married to each other, but there still seems to be a lack of appetite to change the law. Matters are compounded, however, by the belief held by many unmarried couples that some of the rights afforded to married couples actually apply to them when they do not, no matter how long the relationship is.
This is not just when the relationship breaks down but also where the relationship is enduring. On relationship breakdown the rights of unmarried couples are governed by land law and the rules of equity, with an unmarried partner whose name is not on the title deeds to a property having to rely on equity principles of resulting and constructive trusts and proprietary estoppel (as archaic as they sound) to determine whether they can have a share in the family home they have lived in, be it 3 years or 30 years, and whether there are children of the family or not. This can and still does lead to situations of genuine hardship and unfairness. Another example is in relation to pension sharing. Whilst pension sharing may be available to divorcing couples, there is no such provision for an unmarried partner on relationship breakdown.
Even where the relationship does not breakdown, unmarried couples are treated differently. An unmarried father does not automatically have parental responsibility for his child unlike a married father, and should your partner predecease you, and have no valid will, then an unmarried partner does not stand to inherit under the intestacy rules.
There are, however, steps that can be taken to address some of these issues such as entering into Living Together Agreements, making sure you have a valid will in place. Here at Josiah Hincks we can provide you with the help and assistance you need to protect yourself, and your family.
To learn more about our Family Solicitors or to contact a member of the team click here.