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There really is no such thing as a common-law husband or wife and this common myth leaves many cohabitees financially unprotected. A person will not gain any legal rights or financial protection by virtue of them living with another person (whether it be for 30 days or 30 years!), unless they are married or have entered into a civil partnership with that person. Principles of fairness and reasonableness do not apply to unmarried couples and often upon separation, the financial outcome can be very unjust. To avoid such an unfair outcome, or indeed a very costly legal dispute should the relationship end, the couple should consider entering into a living together agreement at the outset of the relationship.
When purchasing a property jointly as an unmarried couple you should both consider very carefully how the property will be owned, although it is usually appropriate to own the property as tenants in common as opposed to joint tenants. This is particularly important should you be making unequal contributions to the purchase price in order to avoid any future property disputes. Unfortunately, there are occasions where either the couple are not given accurate legal advice in this area, or do not fully understand the advice they are given when they are purchasing their home. We are able to offer specialist and clear advice to unmarried couples in relation to their property purchase.
Schedule 1 Children Act Claims
Applications can be made by a parent or guardian under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 for financial provision in relation to a child who is living with them. Such financial provision can include maintenance orders, lump sum orders and property transfer or settlements. These applications are complex and often made in conjunction with an application under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA). Specialist advice should be sought from us in this area as soon as possible after the breakdown of a relationship where there are children involved.
An unmarried father will only have automatic parental responsibility for his child if he is named on the birth certificate and if the child was born after 1st December 2003. Parental responsibility can be acquired by a father by marrying the mother, by entering into a parental responsibility agreement or by obtaining a parental responsibility order from the court.
For detailed advice in any of these areas please contact us on 02380 713060 for a free initial consultation.