Q&A Co-habiting v Marriage – how does it affect finances and children?

Q:      My partner and I have been together for over ten years and have lived together for eight years. We both want children, but I want to be married if I have children and he doesn’t want to marry ever. If we have children and we are not married, what are the implications in respect of the children and finances if we should split up, or if one of us should die?

A:       Probably the biggest difference in respect of the children is that an unmarried mother automatically has parental responsibility for her children, whilst an unmarried father only has parental responsibility if the child’s birth is jointly registered, and his name goes on the birth certificate along with the mother’s name. Jointly registering the birth is important as without that the father would not automatically have responsibility for the child if the mother should die.

As you are hopefully already aware, co-habiting couples who are not married to one another have no legal responsibility to each other financially. If they go on to have children and their relationship later ends, there is no legal entitlement to spousal support, though it is possible to apply for child support through the Child Maintenance Service. The other matter relating to finances is that if one partner in a non-marital cohabiting relationship should die without making a Will, the other partner will not benefit under intestacy rules.

To ensure the best form of security for the future, co-habiting couples should firstly have drawn up a co-habitation agreement which clearly lays out who gets what in the event that they break up. Secondly, they should both make Wills, particularly if they have or are planning to have children, and everyone who has a Will should regularly update it to reflect the life changes that we all experience as we get older. Finally, to be certain that such documents are fully watertight, proper legal advice should be sought.

This question has been answered by Deon Hayward, a Solicitor with GHP Legal.  If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients.  Where possible, we ask that you communicate with us by phone or email. If you have a new enquiry or for an appointment visit www.ghplegal.com or contact one of our offices: Wrexham 01978 291456, Llangollen 01978 860313, Oswestry 01691 659194

Deon Hayward

Deon Hayward


Deon Hayward is a Solicitor based in our Oswestry office.