The Legal Rights of Unmarried Couples

The Legal Rights of Unmarried Couples

Unmarried couples have different (and in some cases, lesser) legal rights and responsibilities in relation to the property, finances and children from their married counterparts. Contrary to popular opinion there is no such thing as a “common law” husband or wife.

For those couples not getting married but setting up home together a co-habitation agreement can perform a similar function as a pre-nuptial agreement.

A co-habitation agreement provides the framework for couples to record their intentions and their respective contributions. This is particularly important in the case of the main property in which the parties are living. This can help set aside any fears prior to living together, leaving them safe in the knowledge that if the relationship was to breakdown, they would be protected financially.

Parental Responsibility is the legal term that allows parents to make major decisions in the lives of their children. Such decisions may effect a child’s religion medical need or where they live.

A mother automatically has parental responsibility for her children. That means she has certain rights such as where the child lives, which school they attend and how when and if they access medical treatment.

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A father only automatically has parental responsibility if he is married to the mother of the child. A father can also obtain parental responsibility by:-

  • Marrying the child’s mother
  • Entering into a voluntary Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother
  • Obtaining a Parental Responsibility Order from the court
  • A Residence Order being made in his favour

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