One in six couples now cohabit as marriage rates decline

Further to the news last week that Divorce rates are on the increase, a recent report published by the Office of National Statistics show that less than half of the population are now married and that one in six couples now cohabit.

For those cohabiting or thinking of cohabiting it is important that they are aware that there is no such term as “common law marriage”. Just by living together for a long period of time does not give couples who are not married the same or similar rights to those who are married. Unfortunately, nearly half of people still believe that there is such a thing as a “common law marriage”.

Despite the recent statistics released the Government continue to consider it inappropriate for legal reform in this area and therefore it is left to a couples to protect themselves. If you are cohabiting you may find your financial position is precarious if your relationship were to breakdown as you would not have the same rights as those couples who are married.

There are however ways to protect yourself and at Carr & Co we have specialists to assist you every step of the way:

Property Ownership

If you intend to share your home together then it is adviseable for you to show your clear intentions of cohabitation. If the property is purchased in Joint Names then it is important to have a document registered with the Title Deeds to show the terms of ownership. This document is known as a “Declaration of Trust” which will outline what shares you are each entitled to and what would happen if either of you wanted the property to be sold.

Agreeing it at the outset will ensure that there is no room for dispute later on if either of you can not agree.

Cohabitation Agreement

It is advisable to enter into one of these when moving in together so that you can indicate your intentions as to how assets should be owned and what would be your intentions if you were to separate. Will the house be sold? What would happen if you had children? Who will pay the bills and mortgage? A cohabitation agreement is binding in law and can protect any future claims.

Who would benefit from your Pension?

Unmarried couples would not benefit from Pension Sharing which is available for those couples who are divorcing. If you are not married you would not have a claim on your partner’s pension. You can however protect yourselves whilst you are together by nominating each other to be the beneficiary on death of any pensions you each may have. This would ensure that as far as the pension is concerned, the surviving partner is provided for.

Life Insurance and Income Protection Insurance

Insure your lives and income to make sure that you are both protected if anything were to happen to either of you. This is especially important if either of you significantly contribute to the household finances or have children.

Make a Will

If either of you were to die without having made Will provision the surviving partner is not automatically entitled to the other’s estate. This is called dying intestate. Ensure you provide for your loved ones and make a Will. We would advise you to do so with a Wills specialist solicitor not a Will Writing Company. Please see our Wills page for further details.

As part of our Will Drafting Service we also consider Inheritance Tax advice along with Local Authority Care Charges and Lasting Powers of Attorney advices. This is part of our package. We also offer free storage of your Will for life and a free legal review every 5 years.

If all else fails….GET MARRIED or enter into a CIVIL PARTNERSHIP


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