Common Law Marriage Contacts
In recent years the number of couples who live together as man and wife has grown considerably. In Britain the statistics for couples who live together but are not married is around one in six, or 25%. Many of these couples are still under the assumption that common law marriage contracts exist and that they are entitled to the same rights as legally married couples.
Common Law Marriages ContractsIf ignorance is bliss then many couples are living together happy in the knowledge that if the split up they will have the same rights as married couples. In fact in legal terms there is no such thing as a common law marriage. The assumption that if couples live together as man and wife for a number of years they are classed as married within common law is in fact a myth.
Although couples may act as if they are married and buy property together, have children, and open joint bank accounts, they do not have the same legal rights as married couples should they split up. When unmarried couples split up they have virtually none of the legal rights that married couples do regarding such issues as financial support and property rights.
Common Law Marriage and RightsAs far as rights are concerned common law marriage contracts are not worth the paper they aren’t written on. Unmarried couples do not have the same rights as those who are legally married and this is where problems arise when couples split up. Property rights and living arrangements can be a big problem when unmarried couples split up.
Where the law is concerned, whoever’s name is on the lease or mortgage is the person entitled to continue living in the home. This means that property rights go not to the person who was paying the mortgage or rent but to the person who actually signed for the lease or mortgage. If a split does occur, then the person who signed the lease can ask the other to move out and the law will be on their side.
Financial Rights of Common Law MarriageAs the law courts do not accept common law marriage contracts it is a wise move to have some precautions set in place regarding finances and property. Couples who are intending to live together but are not intending to marry should make sure that property and financial agreements are signed by both parties.
If renting a home together both names should be on a tenancy agreement. If a couple is buying property together then this needs to be documented. The simple act of paying half of the mortgage without any proof will not be automatically accepted in a court of law. If one half of the couple already owns the home and the other half moves into the home some form of legally binding document should exist to protect the rights of both parties.
Maintenance PaymentsAs far as the law is concerned ex partners are not entitled to maintenance payments. There is no legal requirement for one partner to pay the other any form of maintenance even if one half of the couple gave up work to look after the home and children. However, if children are in involved then maintenance will need to be arranged in the form of child support payments.
Wills and Common Law MarriageUnlike couples that are married, couples who live together will not have the same rights if one partner dies. If no will has been made then the surviving partner will not automatically be entitled to inherit anything. The surviving partner will also not be entitled to any state benefits such as bereavement benefits or pensions that are based on the national insurance contributions of the partner that died.
Living Together AgreementCouple who are intending to live together without marriage should consider entering into a Living Together Agreement. This is a document that can be drawn up that will include the terms and conditions pertaining to the rights of the couple. It should include financial considerations and how property and finances will be divided should the couple split up. Although living together agreements do not score high with the romance factor it is a wise idea to protect the financial rights of both parties involved.
Couples who live together for a number of years as man and wife should be fully aware of their rights, especially where children, property and finances are concerned. It is far better to be realistic about these issues and have agreements set in place than to be left with absolutely nothing if a break up occurs.