When you first meet a new partner and you’re experiencing those first few flushes of love, it’s hard to imagine that anything will ever change.
However, it’s a sad fact of life that things don’t always necessarily stay that way with cracks begin to show in a relationship and doubts starting to appear at the back of our minds.
Make Up or Break Up
Most problems are easily solved.
That argument that you had about leaving the top off the toothpaste or the one about buying yet another pair of shoes will probably mean nothing once the dust has settled.
However, if your relationship problems begin to be more serious, it’s natural to start thinking that this might not be the right relationship for you.
In modern times couples don’t necessarily take that previously ‘inevitable’ step to get married when they decide to settle down together.
The end of a marriage requires something final and legal if both parties no longer wish to remain married. Although a huge and painful decision to make, at least there are definite rules and structure to a divorce.
The end of a cohabitation or long-term relationship is a little less structured and definite. Therefore it is no wonder that deciding to end a non-married relationship can be extremely confusing.
There’s no such thing as an ‘Ending a Long Term Relationship Lawyer’ after all.
Help for the Concerned Cohabitee
Hopefully the following pointers can go some way to help ease any worries that you may be having about ending an unmarried relationship.
Both parents are financially responsible for their child in as much as they can reasonably afford.
This does not matter whether you are married or not. If an agreement cannot be reached through the parent’s negotiations then the Child Support Agency can be used to assess and enforce reasonable contributions from either partner. In terms of Parental Responsibility, a mother automatically has this, whether married or not.
However, an unmarried father only has automatic parental responsibility if the child was born after December 2003 and his name is on the birth certificate.
There is no automatic responsibility if:
- The child was born before December 2003 and the father is not married to the mother.
- The child was born after December 2003 and the Father is not named on the birth certificate.
Parental responsibility can be gained by voluntary agreement with the child’s mother, applying to the court, gaining a residence order or becoming the child’s legal guardian.
A first port of call in this situation would be your local Citizens Advice Bureau an entirely free service.
The dividing up of shared purchases and financial assets can be a harrowing and difficult process.
However it is a mark of modern life that couples often have as many shared debts as they do assets.
If a split is on the cards this can then become a worry, especially if the debt is in the name of one partner only. If you are not able to reach an amicable agreement over the joint payment of debts, the most important thing is not to panic and more importantly not to ignore the situation.
Again, the Citizens Advice Bureau is an excellent place to start when tackling debt as you will leave armed with all sorts of information and a clear picture of your rights.
Speaking to a reputable debt management company is then a practical way to deal with debt. The company will deal with the debts and negotiations with lenders on your behalf but only as far as you can realistically afford. This will reduce your stress and give you a manageable plan for your new future.
Most importantly it is one less thing for you to worry about while you build your new life.
Home Sweet Home
Jointly owned property between unmarried couples is something that should be dealt with as soon as possible following a separation.
Even though a home has been jointly purchased and contributed to during a relationship, following a ruling in the Supreme Court in 2011 (Jones v Kernott), this legal ownership will not necessarily mean you both have equal rights to any profits made from the property.
In this case Mr Kernott had moved out of the shared property allowing Ms Jones to remain there with their children.
Ms Jones continued to solely pay the mortgage and up-keep costs from that point on. When she sold the house thirteen years later the Supreme Court ruled that Mr Kernott was only entitled to 10% of the sale price as he had contributed far less to the property over time. In this kind of case the court will attempt to ascertain the ‘intention’ of the couple upon the purchase.
So, to avoid your intentions being misread by the court it is perhaps wise to deal with your property immediately once you have separated.
Whether you wish to set down in writing your ‘intentions’ or sell the property right away and split the proceeds, it is important that you discuss the matter to avoid the court having to deal with the matter years later.
However if you wish to proceed it is important that you seek legal advice.
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