In England and Wales, unmarried couples’ rights are very different from the law that applies to a married couple. An unmarried couple that lives together have different rights in respect of wills or pension sharing, for example.
An unmarried couple has none of the inheritance tax advantages of a married couple. A couple that lives together has very little legal recognition – common law is a myth – and if one partner dies without leaving a will, the surviving partner will not necessarily inherit anything unless the couple owns a property together.
As the law stands an unmarried couple needs to make a will to make sure that their life partner will inherit all, so if one partner makes provision for the other by will, then the survivor could make a claim against the state to get the house they lived in together.
As we have discussed before on this site, it really is essential to make a will if you are in a long-term, unmarried relationship.
Personal injury compensation for unmarried couples
An interesting case for unmarried couples’ rights was resolved in November 2017, when Jakki Smith won her legal battle for greater legal recognition for bereaved unmarried couples. Jakki had been denied a statutory compensation award after the death of her partner of 16 years.
Her partner John died as a result of medical negligence, and if the couple had been married Jakki would have been paid £12,980 in damages, but these rights don’t traditionally apply to unmarried couples.
Jakki successfully appealed against a High Court ruling, and hopes this will improve rights for unmarried couples. She said: “Nothing will bring John back, but he was a firm believer in everyone being treated equally and I think he would have agreed with me that this is worth fighting for … My fight has never been for the money – it’s about having meaningful relationships recognised.”
As the rights of unmarried couples are not as protected, we would advise you to consider creating a contract with your partner. If you are not married, you still have to deal with the financial issues after a separation, for example, property, mortgage payments or maintenance.
Here at DMA Law, our team of highly skilled lawyers can offer you assistance in all areas of family law, including:
- Relationship breakdown involving unmarried couples
- Separation Agreements
- Planning your Will.
Let DMA take the stress away, contact us today!