The Legal Benefits of Being Married

Author:
Fiona Lyon
Partner, Family Law and Divorce Solicitor
Date:
14/02/2019

Many people get married because they love their partner and want to make a lifelong commitment to them. But under English law, marriage also brings with it many legal benefits.

While living together is becoming an increasingly popular option for many, couples living together (called cohabiting) don’t enjoy the same protection and privileges under the law. So although getting additional legal rights might not be your main reason for tying the knot, they can have a big impact on your life further down the line in terms of financial protection.

For initial advice, get in touch with our Family Law and Divorce Solicitors.

Call us on 08002605010 or request a callback and we will help you.

Here are just a few advantages that come with being married in England and Wales.

Joint Ownership of Assets

Unmarried couples don’t have any automatic right to a partner’s Estate when they die, as the law prioritises blood relatives.

Jointly held property passes to the surviving co-owner, but a surviving co-habitee has no rights to any other assets, however long the relationship with the partner has been.

In the event of separation, being married ensures that assets can be divided in a “fair” way. This could be crucial to your future quality of life, particularly if you were earning substantially different wages throughout your relationship or you stayed at home with a child and lost out on paying into a pension.

You’ll Receive Money if Your Partner hasn’t Made a Will

If you haven’t made a Will by the time you die, your Estate (all that you own at the time of your death) will be subject to inheritance laws called the Rules of Intestacy. These will decide who will inherit from your Estate.

If you’re married and have children, there are financial limits stating how much your spouse can receive. But if you’ve got a partner and you aren’t married, the Rules of Intestacy won’t recognise your relationship at all.

Tax Breaks

The UK government has been keen to promote marriage by offering tax breaks to couples who formalise their relationship in this way.

Many of the perks centre around Inheritance Tax. For instance, if one of you dies, any money or assets passed on to your spouse are free from Inheritance Tax if you’ve got married, and any amount that’s unused from an Inheritance Tax allowance when a partner dies can be passed across to the spouse.

Other tax perks include the ability for spouses to transfer assets and money between each other tax-free.

Parental Responsibility

Biological fathers won’t automatically get Parental Responsibility of a child if they aren’t married to the mother and they do not have their name on the birth certificate. 

They will get parental responsibility if they were married to the mother when the baby was born or they tied the knot later on, or if they were named on the child’s birth certificate. Step-parents don’t automatically get parental responsibility for a child if they marry one of the biological parents and would need to acquire it by agreement or Court application. Our Solicitors can assist with this if you find yourself in this situation.

Unmarried couples who live together do have the option of drawing up a Cohabitation Agreement that details how they want formalise what’s expected of each party.

This can outline issues such as who owns what, who should pay for what and what contribution each person should make to certain expenses, such as mortgage or rent payments. But this cannot completely replace the additional legal rights that come with getting married which are conferred automatically.

For initial advice call our Family Law & Divorce Solicitors

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