Love-struck or Love stuck?
This Valentine’s Day, don’t let affairs of the heart blind you to the realities of life. After all, love makes the world go round, so make sure your world doesn’t come to an abrupt stop!
It is important that you know your rights whether you and your Valentine are cohabiting, married or in a civil partnership. It isn’t unromantic to be practical when it comes to relationships and the future; it saves a lot of heartache if the worst happens. Ridley & Hall believe that the recipe for a successful relationship is an ounce of prudence, a few pounds of protection and a ton of love and affection!
With marriage rates at an all time low, increasing numbers of unmarried couples are moving in together with no plans to tie the knot. Cohabiting may seem the perfect “get out clause” if ever domestic bliss became a living nightmare, but if you don’t consider the legal implications of cohabitation you could risk more than a broken heart.
Romance can cloud our judgment when it comes to our legal rights, especially when we’re head over heels in love, but couples should always seek expert legal advice before moving into a love nest together or combining finances. Having documentation in place in advance to help decide the distribution of assets could save you a lot of time and money if you do break up. Unless you take the necessary measures to protect your assets, you may have no entitlement to a share of the property you live in and/or other financial assets. Don’t be fooled by the assumption that you have implied rights by being a ‘common law wife’ or ‘common law husband’. The idea has no legal recognition in England and is effectively a myth.
Ensure you’re in the best position to put back together the pieces of a broken heart if your Mr Right turns out to be a philandering Lothario or if death do you and your sweetheart part. When you’re in love, the last thing on your mind might be what would happen if you broke up, or if one you died, but it is better to face these difficult issues in the honeymoon period rather than deal with the fall out and confusion at a later stage. Make the decisions when you are rational and calm as all reasoning tends to go out of the window when people deal with broken hearts and homes.
Sue Cash, Head of Private Client at Ridley & Hall, offers the following tips:
• If buying a property with your other half, ensure both your names are on the title deeds. If not and the relationship breaks down, unmarried partners not named on the deeds may have few legal rights. It is even more important to seek advice if the home you buy together involves significant deposits or unequal contributions. Ridley & Hall’s expert solicitors have a wealth of experience and will be more than happy to put all this in hand for you
• If you have a joint bank account, be aware that if you can both pay in money, you can both take it out, so requiring two signatures for any big transactions is a sensible consideration
• Unmarried fathers who are named on their child’s birth certificate have automatic parental responsibility but this only applies to children born after December 2003. If you are not married and have children born before that date, their father has no legal responsibility for them. You can change this if you both agree, and it’s a simple process. Contact Ridley & Hall who will be able to assist you in compiling the necessary paperwork
• It’s always important to make a Will, but it’s vital if you’re not married to your partner. Without a Will you may find that your loved ones do not inherit any assets you may have when you die. Contact Ridley & Hall to get detailed advice and make sure that you show your loved ones exactly how much you care by making provision for them
So if you’re sharing strawberries and champagne or a candlelit dinner for two this Valentine’s Day, do think of the practical consequences should love turn sour, because the aftertaste could linger for a very long time!
For further information please contact Susan Cash at Ridley & Hall Solicitors LLP on 01484 538421