Financial Issues for Non-Married Couples
It is important that you know, from the outset, that if you are not married or in a civil partnership you do not have the same rights as a married spouse relating to property and finances – and, sadly, this will be the case no matter how many years you have been living together. The notion of a “common law spouse” is a misleading myth. In this, sometimes tricky, area of law, we can advise you on the most advantageous strategy regarding arrangements for your children and division of your property.
Whether the family home was bought in only one of your names or in joint names the rules governing your respective shares in the house are quite different from matrimonial law. There is no 50/50 starting point. Your respective contributions to the property may be a key factor and may mean that you are entitled to more or less of the property than you may think. The same applies to jointly held bank accounts and other assets.
In terms of other separately owned assets, however, such as cars, pensions, and ISAs, broadly speaking, they will remain separate property.
The law relating to the children of unmarried couples is the same as for married couples when it comes to the obligation to pay child maintenance and rights to child care and contact. If you are unmarried you cannot apply for maintenance for yourself from your former partner; however, with skilful representation, many of the financial remedies which can be sought in respect of children can also indirectly benefit you. This includes lump sum payments, help with school fees, or even the transfer of property, whilst the child is a minor.
Because legal recourse for unmarried couples is limited extra vigilance is needed to ensure you receive your proper financial entitlement.