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22 February 2018

Are you in an unmarried relationship and want to safeguard your assets and/or protect your children?

Unmarried couples that are living together have become the fastest growing type of family. The figures have doubled and there are now approximately 3.3m families that are in this family type.

However, you may not know that an unmarried couple living together do not have any legal protection, even if, for example, they have lived together for over 20 years. Some believe they have “common law” rights that provide an automatic right to receive a share of the other person’s property or assets in the event that the relationship breaks down. This is untrue and is a common myth.

People often do not realise that the law does not protect them until it is too late, and can find, as an example; that they are not entitled to receive a share of the family home due to it being held in the sole name of the other party. This can also apply whether there are children or not, although there can be options to consider if there are children and it is recommended that advice is taken at an early stage..

Amanda Owens, Specialist Family Law Solicitor at Steeles Law, can advise you on the best options to protect yourself and/or your children, dependent on your situation. If you feel that marriage or civil partnership is not for you, there are other ways to ensure that both parties are protected and these are:

  1. Cohabitation Agreement – this sort of document would set out your joint intentions and what you would like to happen in relation to property, money, and arrangements for the children if you were to separate. Thee agreement can be completely bespoke to cover exactly what you want and can be relied on in the future.
  2. Declaration of Trust – this document sets out how the parties own property and in what shares, and can also cover what happens if you separate. Therefore, if you were to a purchase a property together and are not contributing in equal shares, it would be wise to have a Declaration of Trust drawn up so that you both know exactly that you will get back what you put it in if the property had to be sold in the future.
  3. Will – if one partner in an unmarried couple dies, the other would not have an automatic right to inherit the other party’s assets. Even if the other partner has lived in the joint home for many years, if their name is not on the Deeds or named as a beneficiary under the Will, they could lose their home and any right to proceeds from the sale.

If any of these issues are relevant to your circumstances then come along to see our legal expert Amanda Owens on Friday 23 February at our relationship clinic. Please drop in or book an appointment to see Amanda and/or Jo Rayner, Life and Business Coach, on Friday 23 February at Steeles Law, Norwich between 10am and 4pm.If you would rather book an appointment, please contact Kathryn or Nicki at marketing@steeleslaw.co.uk or 01603 598000.