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to not get married?

(167 Posts)
TheMidnightHour Tue 03-Feb-15 11:08:40

When I was small someone said to me 'you shouldn't get married until you, really, really want to.' It stuck, and I've gone with that, despite increasing pressure from everyone apart from DP: neither of us want to get married, so we haven't.

However, I'm starting to wonder if I'm not seeing some major benefit? After all, if everyone you know jumps off a bridge, you should at least look around to see if it's on fire before you make a decision.

So: here's the status. We are both 30-ish. Not much in the bank, no real assets (no house/car worth anything/heirlooms/trust fund (I wish)), no debt/mortgage. No pensions (I know, I know). No major illnesses. No visa issues. Have wills. We do own a business together, and have a kid on the way (woo!). Both atheists. No religion on my side of the family; DP's parents are very religious and regularly read us a sermon about Living In Sin, which if anything makes it sound quite attractive!

We already have a 'marriage', effectively, as we're as committed as can be and have weathered a decade of storms. I don't want a wedding (large or small, not even a registry office do, gives me the heebs). DP is anti-officially-tying-the-knot for various reasons.

So can I pootle along like this, or is it like going shark feeding without a cage, as one of my friends recently suggested?

(She didn't elaborate on WHAT exactly is out their to eat us, and actually I quite like sharks, always exciting to see one while diving, although they're so quick to vanish they're hard to spot...)

lillibeta Tue 03-Feb-15 11:16:52

The risk with not getting married in a situation like yours, is if one of you goes part-time or becomes a SAHM, you will not necessarily get any help from your DP if you split. That was the major issue for me. It's fine until someone makes a career sacrifice, which the other benefits from. I didn't see marriage as a romantic thing: it's a legal agreement that confers certain responsibilities and advantages. N.b. People tend to accumulate assets as they get older. You may have assets in the future, therefore you may want the inheritance tax exemptions that marriage would afford you.

QueenB14 Tue 03-Feb-15 11:18:05

Live in sin grin

You sound fine as you are.

Unless you want the 3 of you to have same surname? I wouldn't be too bothered but just a thought....

TheMidnightHour Tue 03-Feb-15 11:22:13

That's a very good point, and we've actually discussed it at various times as we've both had to make career sacrifices at different points. I think we're set, as it stands, but I'll bear it in mind.

The inheritance tax threshold is currently £325,000 so we've got a way to go (like, x50), but it's another good point. Perhaps I'll suggest to DP we should get married when we're 60 or rich??

cailindana Tue 03-Feb-15 11:22:26

Having a child with someone without being married is, from a legal point of view, a Very Bad Idea. Being married takes care, in one fell swoop, of all of the legal implications of the fact that you are now creating a family with someone. You can do each thing separately but it's far far easier to just get married.

You may have few assets/legal things to take care of now, but once children come along and as you get older that will change.

If, god forbid, your DP was killed while you could find yourself with children and no access to his money, no say on what happens to any of his personal assets (small as they may be) no right to control his funeral, no legal standing at all in his life and no right to claim any money for the fact that you've now lost his financial contribution to your family (ie widow's pension). If he was in the horrible situation of being on life support you would not be his next of kin, you would have no legal right to make any decisions for him.

TeenAndTween Tue 03-Feb-15 11:27:54

In your situation, why on earth wouldn't you get married? 30 minutes pop along to registry office, just the 2 of you. Legal stuff all tied up. Job done.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Tue 03-Feb-15 11:31:07

I think having a baby changes things so even if you have a low key wedding and keep a marriage quiet it is worth considering. If you aren't married and something happens to you, did you know the responsibility actually falls to your next of kin ie your parents and not the baby's father? Should you split up from DP you are in a better position financially with a ring on your finger and official proof of your relationship.

TheMidnightHour Tue 03-Feb-15 11:41:44

Queen neither of us wants to change, the poor DC is just going to have to be double-barrelled!

cail Why is having a kid while unmarried such a bad idea? Is it just the things you mentioned later?

Re the rest - doesn't a will take care of most of that? His is explicit about where the money & assets should go; funeral arrangements. Plus, my understanding is that it's not cut-and-dried who makes decisions for the unconscious in hospital and I'm not sure that's a likely enough scenario to be worth making a major life decision on.

Teen Don't want to? Feel like one ought to want to get married (for whatever reason) before actually doing it.

Donkeys As long as we register the birth together, DP gets parental responsibility same as I do. And actually, if we're not married we can each indicate a guardian to act if we die, not just if we both die, which would be handy if he joins a cult/runs away to sea/marries someone I hate grin

Mammanat222 Tue 03-Feb-15 11:49:04

We are unmarried by mutual choice.

Have no intention to ever marry.

Joint tenancy and two kiddies for us.

No want / need / longing to marry for either of us.

PasstheDaimbars Tue 03-Feb-15 12:01:43

Right at this point, it would be in your partners benefit to be married with regards to his 'rights' towards your child. If you are married he will automatically go on the birth cert.

As long as we register the birth together, DP gets parental responsibility same as I do. And actually, if we're not married we can each indicate a guardian to act if we die, what if you don't get to register together??

If one of you did die you will have to pay more inheritance tax and companies may refuse to deal with the surviving partner in favour of 'legal' next of kin ie: at this point, the law will see next of kin as your/his parent.

You say you own business together, so if one of you decided to be a stay at home parent, you possibly have less risk that relying on a single salary and in the chance you were to break up the SAHP would still have an income.

Plus, my understanding is that it's not cut-and-dried who makes decisions for the unconscious in hospital and I'm not sure that's a likely enough scenario to be worth making a major life decision on.

Its more cut and dried that you think. Hospitals are very wary of legal battles now. And it's not just death what if one of you was to become incapacitated?
Do you have each others 'lasting power of attorney'? (

Wills won't/don't cover you for that.

A hospital will go with the legal NOK in emergency situations.

The thing is it isn't just about what will happen if you split up, what will happen, if one of you die? It happens young, healthy, fit, about to become parents all the time.

What will happen if one of you sustains a brain injury? Or an accident where you need to decide whether to continue care or not?

I know everyone would like to believe that their family would do the right thing but trust me as an ex nurse I've seen the best and the worst in people.

People who still believe in common law marriage and ending up homeless.

Parents deciding they never really liked the long term partner of their child and banning them from their bedside.

Adult children banning long term partners and making them homeless.

Legal NOK making decisions about care that the partners knows the patient would not want.

Men & Women who'd helped raise their partners children for years suddenly been banned from their lives. (yes I know marrying their parent doesn't give automatic rights, but it does help prove an ongoing relationship if taken to court).

People left with no access to funds to fight court cases to uphold wills etc

As well as seeing this in work, we had to deal with it all when OH's sister was killed in an RTA.
She'd been with her partner 10+ years.

No company would deal with him it all had to go through OH as her legal NOK. Admittedly she didn't have a will, but we asked if this would have made a difference and told no, he would have still had to apply for grant of representation.

On the one hand we got to take some of the burden off him, on the other he still feels 'guilty' that he didn't get to do it even though we involved him in all aspects.

These are all scary horrible things to have to think about but you have to, not only to protect you, your partner and your child.

So yes marriage is a hangover still of when women were chattel to passed over on their fathers say so, but at this point in time legally it is the best protection for both of you.

heartisaspade Tue 03-Feb-15 12:20:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

babybat Tue 03-Feb-15 12:30:26

Watching with interest - I've not really wanted to get married and figured that wills would be sufficient to protect our assets if we were to die, but I'm not really sure on how it would work if you have children. Is it so unreasonable to opt out of the whole wedding thing?

LL12 Tue 03-Feb-15 12:36:53

Is it the 'wedding' or 'marriage' that you don't want?

cailindana Tue 03-Feb-15 12:42:17

Put it this way - having a child with someone without being married like like setting up a business with someone without quite filling in all the paperwork. It might be absolutely fine, or you might get ten years down the line and find you are left with nothing.

I will never forget being behind a poor sobbing woman in the bank. Her partner was dying and rather than being with him she was strung out going to banks, insurance companies etc trying to get everything in order before he died. He was very unwell but companies insisted on dealing with him not her, legally she had no right to deal with any of his affairs. Had she been his wife it would all have automatically reverted to her.

GnomeDePlume Tue 03-Feb-15 12:43:40

The thing with marriage is that it legally defines the start and end of a relationship. You can only be legally married to one person at a time whereas it is possible to live with more than one person with both other partners believing they are 'the one'. It isnt easily possible to divorce without the other person knowing about it whereas legal agreements such as wills can be changed unilaterally.

Living together is just fine for the good times. It leaves open questions for the bad times.

Of course the bad times will never happen, you will live forever in good physical and mental health, you will never split up.

I dont mean that last bit to be patronising but as many a poster will attest to, the bad times do happen to people who really and honestly thought they never would.

GnomeDePlume Tue 03-Feb-15 12:45:59

On the other hand the bad times might not happen and in 60 years time you could be celebrating your diamond wedding anniversary just like my PiL!

meditrina Tue 03-Feb-15 12:47:50

I think the thing you need to make sure is watertight is the legal underpinnings of the business, especially if you reduce your hours once you have a child.

But periodically review the legal differences between marriage and cohabitation, because you may find your circumstances change and the legal arrangements it confers do become more necessary to you.

Tisiphone Tue 03-Feb-15 12:49:24

Like you, I had no desire to get married, in fact I actively didn't want to, associating it with the kind of Barbie My Speshul Day gendered socialising of women and girls that i despise. My partner of more than 20 years was very keen, though, and when we decided to have a baby, fifteen minutes at the registry office on our lunch breaks seemed easier than having someone draw up documents to replicate marriage conditions, insofar as they can be replicated outside of marriage. You don't need a wedding. I wore jeans, we didn't have rings, and it cost about £150 and took fifteen minutes, tops.

I'm glad we did for the purely practical reasons outlined by previous posters. Which are serious, and worth considering. Someone we knew was left in an appalling situation when his partner went into a coma before she was able to register their newborn as his. I frequently forget we got married, have no idea when our wedding anniversary is, and it made not a jot of difference to our very happy relationship.

MaryWestmacott Tue 03-Feb-15 12:50:36

I think if you've decided this is the person you want to spent the rest of your adult life with, then why not spend 30 minutes (or less) and about £150 to do something that will give you both legal rights and responsibilities that will adapt to your situation changing.

Much easier, quicker and cheaper than drawing up wills everytime your situation changes. (and more secure, your DP can't just decide to change being married to you without you knowing, he could just pop to a solicitor and change his will without mentioning it to you)

Who do you want to make the 'switch off?' decision should you or your DP be on life support? Who would you like to make the choice of care home for you if you need one later in life?

while life is going fine, you don't need to be married. But the rights and responsibilities it gives are really there for when things go wrong, when one of you are sick, when one of you dies, when you are old and infirm. If your relationship ends.

You might not need it now, but if this really is a long term relationship, then you need to make long term plans, and marriage adapts with changes in your life. If you don't think this is long term, then perhaps you should have picked someone else to have a baby and business with!

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 03-Feb-15 12:55:06

"We already have a 'marriage', effectively, as we're as committed as can be and have weathered a decade of storms".

No you do not have a marriage; you are either married or you are not.
The fact remains that you are not married. You are and will be treated in law as two separate individuals if the other dies. Wills do not cover every eventuality and you are not each other's next of kin.

Why do you think same sex couples fought so long and hard for marriage?.

I think that 30 minutes in front of a Solicitor will open both your eyes a lot more because you are not wanting to face up to the fact that if it all goes pear shaped the person left behind is going to face a hell of a lot of difficulties.

Why does your DP not want to get married?. What are his objections to this?. Being unmarried does not cut any ice when it comes to the harsh realities of legalities, it creates a whole host of problems that neither of you have really envisaged or even wanted to think about.

What is the situation re your property, what is its current value?. People who state they do not have assets do and also often badly underestimate the true value of those. Same goes for cars etc. This and the business you mention are all assets.

As it stands if he or you were to die suddenly, the person left behind would not be able to open Letters of Administration re the estate of the deceased. That itself is problematic. You could also not even choose a headstone for the deceased either. That's a small point but again a significant one. He or you could become totally reliant on the goodwill of the parents. If he died you could not claim any Widows allowance from the government (currently around £110 a week) as you are unmarried. You could be looking at real financial hardship as well as dealing with your own grief if he died suddenly.

Your children in later years may pester you both to get married particularly if their friends parents are married. They could well ask you why you are not married.

Surreyblah Tue 03-Feb-15 12:55:08

As people say,it's the legal stuff, worth a read up and/or advice before dismissing marriage.

MaryWestmacott Tue 03-Feb-15 12:58:06

oh and like Tisaphone - I also know a couple where the woman died less than 3 days after giving birth. They hadn't registered the baby yet. (she'd had a c section, something went wrong/was missed, they operated again on day 3 and she didn't wake up - I'm not entirely sure what went wrong, I didn't know the father, just the mum from toddler groups with her DC1). They were married, it meant that he automatically was treated like an equal parent.

When things go wrong, they can go very wrong. It's unfair on you, your DP and your DCs to not do somehting that will make life considerably easier for them if the worse happens.

cailindana Tue 03-Feb-15 12:59:35

The quote from your OP that Attila mentioned seems very naive. Marriage isn't about commitment or weathering storms - plenty of unmarried couples do that. Marriage is about cementing that commitment in law so that if a terrible storm comes you won't go under.

heartisaspade Tue 03-Feb-15 13:01:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SummerHouse Tue 03-Feb-15 13:03:19

I am unmarried and mother if two. I am more or less of the same thinking as you op. Me and DP do not really want to get married and have been together 13 years. We both have divorced parents. Sure there are legal arguments in favour but we are happy and happy with our situation. I don't care much for "what ifs" and when I look back on my life I hope I am glad that I lived it this way. I don't fear the worst and i don't plan for it. All the best op. I am with you.

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