Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Bad Breaks? Unmarried. So Who Gets What If You Split? Asks TRICIA PHILLIPS

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Bad Breaks? Unmarried. So Who Gets What If You Split? Asks TRICIA PHILLIPS

Article excerpt

Byline: Tricia Phillips

MORE than 2.5 million couples who are living together, but not married, haven't done anything to safeguard their finances, property or other valuable possessions should they split up.

A third trust their partner will provide for them should they break up, a quarter just haven't got around to it, while some are too scared to bring up the matter in conversation.

And, worryingly, research from Turbervilles solicitors shows that more than half wrongly believe that at some point during their relationship they will earn the same rights as their married counterparts.

You might hear the term common law marriage, but if you are cohabiting you do not have the same legal rights as a married couple. Being named in your partner's will gives protection should he or she die but it doesn't take into account a split if you are both alive.

Kate Ryan, partner and head of family law at Turbervilles, says: "No one likes to focus on the split-up scenario, but many more couples living together need to be far more pragmatic, rather than risk having to deal with timely or costly disagreements in court.

"Although it is likely that, at some stage in the future, legislation will be passed so that those living together will be afforded certain rights in line with married couples, there are likely to be caveats and exclusions.

"For the time being, cohabiting couples need to cover everything themselves by putting additional legal agreements in place."

THE ISSUES PROBLEMS can arise when one partner is the sole owner of the property, but the other has made regular or ad hoc payments towards the mortgage, or paid out significant sums on refurbishment or a possible extension.

There have been cases where the non-property owner has been involved in large scale construction which meant the property owner has saved tens of thousands of pounds. …

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