Many couples are choosing to cohabit without marrying and many cohabiting couples do not intend on getting married, even though they see each other as life partners. This may be for financial, political or personal reasons.
Cohabiting couples do not tend to experience difficulty, until things go wrong. There are still very few legal rights between cohabiting couples, so if you do not intend on getting married, but you are living with your life partner, you must find other ways to protect yourself legally.
Although death is inevitable many of us do not like to discuss it. However, if you want your partner to inherit any of your estate, you must draw up a legally binding will. Your partner will not automatically inherit from you if you are not married. This is the case even if you have children together.
Without a will your partner could be left without the means to support your family in the event of your death. It is also worth taking out life insurance for peace of mind that your partner will be financially stable. You can not rely on your legal next of kin to give your estate to your partner, a legally binding will is the only way to protect your partner financially, should you die.
When you come to by a house with your partner you must seek the advice of a family lawyer to help you to draw up an agreement about how it is shared between you. Should you split up, or sell the house then the law becomes exceptionally confusing and one party could significantly lose out if there has not a legal agreement to fall back on.
Your home is likely to be your biggest asset, if only one person ‘owns’ the property and is paying the mortgage, the other person will still want some rights over the home if they have been paying other bills and caring for the children.
Likewise, if both parties have a financial share in the home then an agreement should still be drawn up, as one party could believe that they are entitled to a larger percentage than the other.
If your long term relationship comes to an end and you are concerned about your finances for yourself and your children, then seek the help of a family lawyer. A family lawyer will be able to help you sort through the legal aspects of dividing assets and caring for children.