It was lovely to hear that Emma Bunton, AKA Baby Spice, married her long-term partner Jade Jones after a 10 year long engagement. The couple have been together for over 20 years, with a brief period of separation and already have 2 children aged 10 and 13.
Many cohabiting couples assume that they were already in a ‘common law marriage’, which would give them the same rights as if there were married. Unfortunately, the concept of common law marriage has no legal validity in the UK.
Moving in together doesn’t give you automatic rights to each other’s property no matter how long you live together.
If your partner dies, cohabitation doesn’t entitle you to inherit their Estate. Cohabiting couples have no legal duty to support each other financially either while they are living together or if they separate. Nor do they automatically share ownership of your possessions, savings, investments, etc.
Unmarried Couples Living Together with Children
Legally you only have a role in important decisions about your children if you have parental responsibility for them.
If the parents of the children are not married, the mother’s partner has parental responsibility if he:
If you separate the children are treated in the same way as when a married couple separate.
The Important of Wills for Unmarried Couples
Cohabiting couples have no automatic right to inherit if their partner dies although they may be a beneficiary under the other’s Will.
If you are a beneficiary any assets you receive may be subject to Inheritance Tax – there is no exemption for unmarried couples.
If you can show that you are financially dependent on your partner, you can make a claim for a financial settlement even if you were not a beneficiary of the Will.
However this can involve complex and expensive negotiations with other beneficiaries. And even if you are successful you may only be entitled to a limited share of your partner’s assets.
So Emma and her new husband, Jade, now have greater legal and financial protection than those simply living together.
Being married to your partner gives you a number of important legal rights over things like property and money that you wouldn’t have if you were simply living together.
Getting Financial Protection as an Unmarried Couple
This doesn’t mean that all cohabiting couples should rush to get married, but it does mean that if you want to make sure you have as much legal and financial protection as possible and you should consider a Cohabitation Agreement.
Our experienced Family Lawyers can explain all the benefits of a Cohabitation Agreement and prepare one for you if you want to protect each other legally and financially.
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