Unfortunately, under current legislation, unmarried couples do not have the same legal protection as married couples. At Rix and Kay we can assist in ensuring that you consider having a Cohabitation Agreement; Deed of Trust and/or a Will to protect yourself in the event of separation from your partner. Unmarried couples who have children are often surprised and upset by the fact they do not have the same equal rights as married couples upon separation.
It is therefore always a good idea to seek advice when you have children as to how to protect your position. The good news is that insofar as child maintenance claims are concerned, unmarried couples have the same right as married couples to child support and can make a claim under the C.M.S. legislation.
Property claims are not straight forward and unless you have an agreement in place by way of a deed of trust, if your name is not on the legal title to the property, you may find that you are seriously dis-advantaged upon separation, particularly if you are the main carer for the children.
You can consider making an application under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 for financial provision for your children but this does not mean the financial provision will be extended to yourself. However, whilst the children are minors, the non-resident parent of the children may have to provide a home and additional income during the children’s minority but this will stop when the children cease full-time education.
For several years now, the government has entertained the idea of changing the law, but it is still under consideration.
If there are children, the mother automatically has parental responsibility whereas a father will only acquire parental responsibility if his name is placed on the child’s birth certificate. Unmarried fathers cannot register their names on the child’s birth certificate without the mother’s consent.
It is also possible to acquire parental responsibility which can be done either by agreement with the mother to add the father’s name to the birth certificate; sign a parental responsibility agreement; or apply to the court. Married couples automatically acquire parental responsibility in respect of any children of the marriage.
You may need specific advice regarding property and your rights to property if you move into a property owned by your partner. You can acquire an interest in the property directly by agreeing the terms of a deed of trust or, indirectly, if you are prepared to make an application for the court to determine your interest in the property after your separation if you believe you did have an interest in the property but that interest was not recorded in writing.
The law in this area is complicated and we suggest you seek legal advice on the merits of your application being successful in your particular circumstances.