Divorce settlement after living together pre marriage

Divorce settlement after living together pre marriage

Did you know? – the length of time you live together before marriage can affect the share you receive of matrimonial assets if you divorce …

Larry the cat

Larry the cat lives at 10 Downing Street. If he’s anything like my cat he’s always changing his mind. You let him in and straightaway he wants to go out again. He’s out, and next thing you know, he’s yowling at the door. It’s possible some humans are like this too. Forever changing their mind, chopping and changing, difficult to pin down.

Chopping and changing

But chopping and changing can lead to consequences if you’re a human being. Let’s pretend you’ve been married twice – in fact you’re still married to your second wife –  and you’re living at – um, well – let’s say an address in the centre of London not a million miles from Larry the cat. Some commentators are now referring to your cohabitee as the “First Girlfriend”.

Tot up the years

Perhaps you’re pondering marriage to the First Girlfriend once you’re divorced from your second wife. Heaven forbid this third marriage won’t last but say if it doesn’t? And say if it doesn’t last very long at all? How do you protect yourself against a claim that, taken together with the previous cohabitation, it wasn’t a short marriage? Perhaps it’s time to take advice from an expert family lawyer.

Why length of marriage is important

The starting point for the division of matrimonial assets is equal division (see my blog on Financial settlements). But this doesn’t always apply to short marriages. Take a look at my blog Short marriages – 10 things you need to know. So if you’re only married for a short period of time you might not want any prior period of cohabitation to count.

When does living together count towards length of marriage

The Court has set down that the time you live together is counted if you move “seamlessly” from living together to marriage. The Judge in the case of GW v RW said, “… where a relationship moves seamlessly from cohabitation to marriage without any major alteration in the way the couple live, it is unreal and artificial to treat the periods differently.”

What does move “seamlessly” mean

  • When you lived together – was it the same as being married but without the ceremony? And did you simply then get married and it made no difference?
  • Or alternatively were you just trying each other out, seeing if there was any possibility of a marriage some time in the future?

In the latter case, well, it’s just not the same as being married is it.

Are you cohabiting

Dates of cohabitation are frequently disputed. So perhaps you need it agreed and written down somewhere.

What’s the answer

When you move in together you could have a Cohabitation Agreement recording the date you started living together. See my blog about Cohabitation AgreementsWhen you decide to get married you can have a Prenuptial Agreement stating them same. A prenup can be vital in many circumstances – see my blog 10 reasons you need a prenuptial agreement when life is rosy 

Divorce settlement after living together pre marriage

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on the question Divorce settlement after living together pre marriage. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post Divorce settlement after living together pre marriage are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image for Divorce settlement after living together pre marriage Larry the Cat outside 10 Downing St by Parrot of Doom on Wikimedia Commons

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“Common Law Property Rights?” 6 Things You Must Include In A Cohabitation Agreement

 

Ever wondered about Common Law Property Rights?

If you are moving in together you will be busy unpacking boxes and finding a home for everything. Or maybe you’ve been living together for a while and everything’s rosy.

But did you know there’s no such thing as common law marriage? And you don’t have the same rights as a married couple? This may come as a shock to you but don’t worry, there’s something you can do about it. If you’re still not convinced, see my blog 6 reasons why you need a cohabitation agreement

If you want an equal and sharing relationship with your partner, but you also want to protect your property from a claim should you split up, consult an expert family law solicitor.

Here are six things you will need to think about for your Cohabitation Agreement.

1. Property you owned before you moved in together

Couples often agree it will remain separate. They can also agree their partner can’t make a claim over it.

For example, you own your own home and your partner moves in. What if your partner makes payments on the mortgage? Or does work on the property? This could give them a claim over it. If this is not what you want, you really do need to be explicit about it.

2. Property you acquire after you move in together

The question is, do you buy it as joint tenants or as tenants in common? What do these terms mean and how can you protect yourself? See my blog Shall I buy a house with my partner for a quick and clear explanation.

But if the property is in the sole name of one of you, you need to address the issues raised in paragraph 1 above.

3. Household expenses

What if you don’t own your home jointly? Or if one of you earns more than the other?

Maybe you will agree unequal contributions. Maybe your partner will agree to contribute to the mortgage and acknowledge this will give them no claim over the property.

4. Inheritance and Wills

Did you know unmarried couples don’t automatically inherit each other’s estates if they die?

Life assurance can be important for the survivor. But if you do want to leave your estates to each other make sure you both have a will and you keep it up to date. See my recent blog, Do I need a will? Here’s one very good reason.

5. Children

If you have children already, you can provide for co-parenting if you split.

You can think about where the children will live and who will pay child maintenance and how much – see my blog What are your child maintenance options. You might want to consider the ownership of your home. After all, the children will need a roof over their heads.

You can also agree payments to the parent with whom the children will live if their earning capacity is likely to be reduced as a result.

6. Independent Legal Advice

Both of you will need to take independent legal advice. This means you will have no doubt about what you are agreeing, and it will make your agreement binding. And if your relationship ends, the Court is more likely to take notice of your agreement and put it into effect.

But please remember a Cohabitation Agreement must be revisited as your relationship evolves:

  • If children arrive
  • If your financial situation changes radically
  • There could be health problems, inheritances and issues concerning aging and elder care.

Cohabitation Agreements

Contact Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for free advice on cohabitation agreements. In this 20 minute session we will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family law solicitors offering personalised legal solutions. We offer collaborative law which is especially relevant in providing solutions tailored to your family’s needs. This includes same sex couples and their families. Visit our website just-family-law.com The topics covered in this blog post are complex and are provided for general guidance only. Therefore if any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog have application to you, seek expert legal advice.

image Man and woman silhouettes by Fred Bchx on Wikimedia Commons

 

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6 Reasons Why You Need A Cohabitation Agreement

  1. Did you know there’s no such thing as Common Law marriage? In addition, did you know cohabitees don’t have the same rights as married couples? A Cohabitation Agreement can protect you and your property. It can also set out what will happen in the event of your separation, or death. The Court is likely to be guided by your Cohabitation Agreement if there’s a dispute.

A Cohabitation Agreement Can Protect You And Your Property 

  1. If your relationship ends you can literally find yourself out in the cold. This is because unless you are the owner, or joint owner, of your shared home you have no automatic legal right to it. You may have sunk a lot of money into its purchase. Or perhaps you have paid for improvements. But if your name is not on the title you could come away with nothing.
  1. In the Cohabitation Agreement you can agree how you own property. This may be in equal or unequal shares, or you may agree to keep your property separate.

A Cohabitation Agreement Can Protect You And Your Property  On Death

  1. What happens if your cohabitee dies and there’s no Will? Their estate is distributed under the intestacy rules. But these rules do not mention a surviving cohabitee. So in other words you could be left with nothing. But don’t worry, you can agree what will happen to your property after death in your Cohabitation Agreement. In addition, it’s vital to make Wills and regularly review them.
  1. Furthermore you need to make sure you know your entitlement to your partner’s pension. A surviving cohabitee might be entitled to benefits under a late partner’s pension scheme. But this is not guaranteed. You might need to agree to nominate each other in respect of death in service payments.

Regularly Review Your Cohabitation Agreement

  1. A Cohabitation Agreement can address many of these concerns, and more. It can also cover household bills, debts, businesses. But if there is a change in circumstances such as the arrival of children please make sure you review your Cohabitation Agreement with your solicitor.

Find out more about how Cohabitation Agreements can protect you and your property. Phone Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for a free 20 minute consultation.

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JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family law solicitors offering personalised legal solutions.

We offer collaborative law which is especially relevant in providing solutions tailored to your family’s needs. This includes same sex couples and their families.

Visit our website just-family-law.com

The topics covered in this blog post are complex and are provided for general guidance only. Therefore if any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog have application to you, seek expert legal advice.

image Hanna and Ole Nydahl on Wikimedia

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6 Things You Need To Know About “Common Law Marriage”

common law marriage partner1.   There’s no such thing as common law marriage but there are steps you can take to protect yourself. Couples who live together have only a fraction of the protection afforded to those who are married.

2.   Unless your home is in joint names, and there’s a declaration of trust, there’s no automatic right to a share, or a fair share. If the worst comes to the worst it may be possible to come to an agreement by negotiation, mediation or collaborative law (or even by going to court) but it’s a legal minefield.

3.   Update your Wills regularly. If your partner doesn’t leave a Will you may end up with nothing and face a complicated and expensive application to the court with no guarantee of the outcome you expected.

4.   Children of separating cohabitees are treated the same when it comes to arrangements for where they’re going to live and who they’re going to see, and the Child Maintenance Service (the Child Support Agency) can help if the absent parent isn’t paying up. But there are significant differences when it comes to lump sum payments, property orders and extra maintenance, and there are special provisions under Schedule 1 of the Children Act.

5.   Nowadays pensions are of utmost importance. Would you be entitled to your late partner’s pension? It’s not guaranteed so don’t leave anything to chance, find out now.

6.   A cohabitation agreement offers some protection but will need regular updating and won’t be binding in court proceedings, particularly if there’s a change in circumstances such as the arrival of children. It also won’t cover for example your entitlement to your partner’s pension if your partner dies before you.

Phone me on 01962 217640 for a free 20 minute consultation on these important issues.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family law solicitors offering personalised legal solutions.

Visit our website just-family-law.com

The topics covered in this blog post are complex and are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog might have application to you, you should seek expert legal advice.

Pair of Mandarins by Francis C. Franklin on WikiMedia Commons

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