A recent YouGov survey of 1000 co-habiting couples has found that more than a third of them didn't realise that they do not have the same legal rights as their married counterparts.
As far as financial matters are concerned, being married makes all the difference to your situation. Whilst the law may not completely adhere to the principles of “ for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health…” it does go some way to promoting these marriage vows in the event your relationship breaks down.
If you divorce your husband or wife, a judge is given the power to order your ex-spouse to pay you maintenance either for a specified period of time or for the rest of your life, if appropriate. They can also award a share of any savings, property and pensions according to what is fair and what you need.
If you are not married and separate from your partner, the court has no general powers to order anything in your favour. Certainly you cannot receive any maintenance nor a share of any pensions. Under the general laws relating to property ownership, you can seek what is rightfully yours, but nothing more. As such, your needs will not be considered and you may be considerably worse off than if you had been married. Conversely, if you are the wealthier partner, you may have preserved considerably more of your wealth than if you had married.
Switalskis specialist Family Law team is here to provide legal advice and assistance to separating couples, both married and unmarried. To arrange a free half hour consultation, contact us today on 0800 138 0458.