Not long ago it was quite unusual to live together without benefit of clergy and would certainly cause raised eyebrows and whispering behind hands. It is quite different nowadays when a first sign of commitment for many couples is moving in together. They may feel completely settled but may be surprised to find that the law sometimes treats legally married husbands and wives very differently to those who may have an emotional commitment but never got round to legalising it.
If children are born the father always has financial responsibility whether married or not .If not married he has no rights where his children are concerned unless he went with the mother to jointly register the birth or has a parental rights agreement. The mother can give the child whatever first or surname she wants, decide where they will live and go to school and if the natural father can have any contact. However the child still has inheritance rights even if the parents were not married.
Spouses have a right to live in the couple’s home even if the other spouse is the sole owner or has their name in the rent book. Not so for the ‘bidie in’. I had a call from a lady who had allowed her gentleman friend to move in. She eventually grew tired of the fact he seemed to prefer the company of friends in the pub to her conversation. This went too far on Christmas day when he didn’t come home for his dinner until well into the evening. The dinner was in the bin and the man out the door. She owned the flat and had that right. If he had married her before getting ‘fou and unco’ happy’ he still would have had the right to live there.
Couples are jointly assessed for benefits whether married or not and they are taxed separately but if assets are transferred the unmarried may have to pay Capital Gains Tax. Gifts between married people are exempt.
We are talking about living together but can’t avoid discussing death. A will is always advisable but if unmarried it is essential. A surviving spouse will at least get the home, contents and part of the estate. A surviving co-habitee gets nothing. If it was a rented house and the tenancy was not in their name they will have to leave their home. The same applies if the house was owned by the deceased.
I have skimmed over this fascinating subject. There is a lot more.
If you want more information write into the Crier or call at the Citizen’s Advice Bureau at 7 Atholl Crescent . Drop in is 10am-12 noon Monday to Friday or phone 01738 450581 for an appointment between 1-3pm.
For advice on the telephone call 01738 450580.
Website: www.adviceguide.org.uk gives accurate information. You need to click the Scotland tab in case it is a query affected by Scot’s Law. Benefits and employment are the same in both counties but Debt is different.