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Unmarried couples at risk of losing everything if relationship breaks down

Posted onPosted on 24th Nov
Unmarried couples at risk of losing everything if relationship breaks down

A family lawyer has called on unmarried couples in Mansfield to take action to protect themselves, as they could be vulnerable if the relationship breaks down.

Helen Shaw from Tallents Solicitors, Mansfield, made the calls as part of a national Cohabitation Awareness Week that was led by Resolution, who campaign for a fairer family justice system.

Cohabitation Awareness Week, from 27th November – 1st December, aims to raise awareness about the lack of rights that exist for unmarried couples who live together.

She said despite the myth of “common law marriage”, under current cohabitation law it was possible to live with someone for decades and even to have children together and then simply walk away without taking any responsibility for a former partner when the relationship breaks down.

Helen explained that most couples she worked with mistakenly believe that they acquire “common law” rights after living with their partner for a certain amount of time or having children together. That can have a huge impact on partners who have given up or reduced their workload to raise a family.

Helen said: “The sad reality is that unmarried couples in Mansfield have very limited legal rights and responsibilities towards each other if the relationship breaks down.

“I regularly meet people who have been affected in this way, and because of the lack of legal protection, there are times when I simply can’t help them.

“This is why I urge all cohabiting couples in Mansfield to consider taking out basic protections, such as a cohabitation agreement to protect both partners if they separate, or think about life insurance. By setting out your intentions in these documents, you’ll be in a much better situation if the unexpected happens.”

As numbers of cohabiting couples are projected to continue their rise, it’s imperative that we raise awareness of this issue and encourage government to bring the law in line with the modern family.

Helen is available at the Tallents’ Mansfield office to help anyone with family law issues. She also attends the free family law drop-in clinic at Tallents Solicitors in Southwell, held on Tuesday evenings, 5-7pm.

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