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To think that marriage doesn't necessarily give more financial security?

(41 Posts)
newmumwithquestions Fri 29-Apr-16 07:57:35

I've been with my OH for over 10 years. We're not married. I see no reason why we'd ever split up, but if it did happen I'm wondering if financially I could be worse off as a result, and if there is anything I should do to avoid this. I know one side (normally the woman) is often worse off in an ummarried break up compared to a married one but don't understand if this would be the same in our case.

We have earnt more than each other at varying times in our relationship. I have left work for a couple of years to be a SAHM and then intend to go back to work, probably part time. In making this decision we made him the primary earner.

- We own our house (part mortgaged), are both named on the mortgage and joint own it.
- We have mirror wills. If one died everything goes to the other.
- Although not married, we registered our children's births together to give him shared parental responsibility.
- I am the beneficiary of his life insurance.
- He pays into a work pension, I currently am not paying into a pension, this worries me a bit, although I don't understand if being married would give me any security here?
- As primary earner his salary pays most household expenses. His personal spending is higher than mine but I'm ok with that (I'm just better at being frugal).

Am I missing anything here?

Trills Fri 29-Apr-16 08:02:34

I'm going to reinterpret your title as:

to think that someone who is very careful can get all the financial security of marriage without marrying

You can get most things by setting up your wills and finances carefully, but not quite all.

I've found one thing that you can 't do - as a SAHM you could transfer some of your tax-free allowance to a husband but not to a partner

Finallyonboard Fri 29-Apr-16 08:02:40

I'm wondering what would happen if he had money saved in an account in his name & then you broke up? I have a feeling in a divorce it would be joint property not sure what would happen if you weren't married.

Also, if you broke up whilst married would he need to offer you spousal support?

Hopefully an expert will come along soon flowers

dillydotty Fri 29-Apr-16 08:03:22

You could get a share of his pension if you divorced.

You are not his next of kin but you could fix that by doing LPAs

bearleftmonkeyright Fri 29-Apr-16 08:09:33

Following with interest.

Lightbulbon Fri 29-Apr-16 08:10:11

In your situation you would be better being married.

He should have more spending money than you. If you are more frugal then the excess should go into a savings account just in your name.

If he cheats on you and moves out you will be forced to sell the house if you can't afford it alone. If you were married he'd have to pay the mortgage until your child leaves school.

Birdsgottafly Fri 29-Apr-16 08:13:29

Your named on the Mortgage, so that protects your rights, property wise.

It's just that all of the others, can be changed at any time, even without you knowing.

As for registering the birth, again, his rights weren't automatic, they had to be given. I've heard of a few times, were the Mother has died, or been in a Coma, had a Stroke, after birth and the Mothers family have been the ones to make the arrangements etc.

I was married, which when my DH had Cancerous Brain Tumours and had to be Sectioned, allowed me to 'Pull Rank' over his blood relatives, under the law. They would have been causing a lot of trouble otherwise.

There are circumstances were it is better to be married, but that's being levelled out, with changes to laws and policies.

I advise anyone to make sure their DP is single, in-law and not separated/going through a divorce, I've seen many women come unstuck with that situation.

Gasp0deTheW0nderD0g Fri 29-Apr-16 08:17:53

Nobody wants to think about their partner dying, or their own death, but sadly it does happen every year that relatively young people die and that is one situation in which being married would make a difference financially.

Your partner could change his will at any time so that isn't really a guarantee of anything. I'm not a lawyer but I believe that a spouse who was left out of a will would stand some chance of challenging it, and in the event of intestacy would automatically get a large chunk of the estate. An unmarried partner could challenge a will too, but the odds of success are a lot worse. Unmarried partners get nothing if there's no will.

There's also a tax allowance for widows/widowers for the first year or so after a spouse dies. Don't know if that goes to an unmarried partner.

As others have said, there might be pension rights you can claim as a spouse on divorce or as a widow which would not be available to you as an unmarried partner, but that's probably more relevant to divorce.

And finally, if you think your partner's estate or yours might be large enough for inheritance tax to be an issue (as it might if you own a house in London and only have a small mortgage) there are big tax advantages to being married. There's no inheritance tax on anything you leave to a spouse and when the surviving spouse dies their estate is reduced not just by their own inheritance tax allowance but by any unused portion of their spouse's. It means you can leave a lot more to your children. Not everybody would want to take advantage of that, as there is a moral side to paying tax, but it's something to think about.

crumpet Fri 29-Apr-16 08:18:12

Well,if you split up, he could change his will, change his beneficiary and as you are unmarried you'd have no entitlement to his pension. As you are jointly on the mortgage, one of you would have to consent to either buy out the other and take on the full mortgage, or ultimately sell up (which might have to happen even if you are married, but during a divorce the finances are I think dealt with more formally with a court order)

FinallyHere Fri 29-Apr-16 08:26:24

PP has already mentioned transferring income tax allowance.

There is also the position when the first of you dies: there is no inheritance tax due on transfers between married partners. If you are not married and their half of the estate is worth more than the current allowance £320K (plus the new allowance .... Not sure about this bit its new since i last looked at this area) you would perhaps be paying inheritance tax on the estate you have inherited. With house prices the way there are, this was enough to persuade me to get married.

There may be ways other than marriage to avoid this tax, where lawyers and financial advisors would have some ideas. We decided to spend the potential saving on a party, and get married first.

The next of kin in hospitals etc was a bonus.

HuskyLover1 Fri 29-Apr-16 08:26:33

You seem to have everything sorted.

But....... I can't help wondering why he hasn't proposed to you, after 10 years and children together? That would really annoy me.

curren Fri 29-Apr-16 08:29:20

* I can't help wondering why he hasn't proposed to you, after 10 years and children together? That would really annoy me.*

neither has the OP

FinallyHere Fri 29-Apr-16 08:32:57


We have no idea whether OP has been proposed to, not sure why you would assume she has not been.

Not everyone thinks being married is any great prize. In my case, it turned out that there were worthwhile tax benefits. I took a significant financial incentive for me, to outweigh the tradition of women as possessions which i still associate with marriage.

curren Fri 29-Apr-16 08:32:59

Marriage does give more security. Unless you go down the route of having everything's secured legally.

Not sure if he can make you next of kin, I presume so.

Personally rather than faff with all the little bits of legal stuff. We had a small wedding. I didn't want a big wedding. But it was easier to have a small one rather than make sure all the details were covered in various legal documents.

It shocks me how many people become sahp without their name on deeds or rental agreements or even understanding the details.

Figmentofmyimagination Fri 29-Apr-16 08:34:08

The trouble is that in setting up these consensual (but mostly reversible - house excepted) arrangements, you are assuming that any breakup would be conflict free. The advantage of marriage is that the institutional structure to protect the lower/non-earning spouse is in place from the word go. No need for awkward conversations. As a solicitor (although not a family law practitioner) I have always strongly advised my two girls against having children outside marriage. (Whether they will listen is another matter!). I think this is one are where social consensus has overtaken the law, and where there is a very low awareness of the implications - I have recently watched one close friend lose her high earning partner in the break up of a no-marriage relationship of 10 years with children. So much more complicated and uncertain.

bingoed Fri 29-Apr-16 08:54:47

Pension contributions become significant once you work part time. His pension pot will be far more than yours, especially as career progression tend to falter once you work part time work. Marriage protects this.

If he has more disposable income and therefore more savings, again will be solely his but joint in marriage. Saving can really add up, I've found it almost impossible to save on a part time salary. DH has saved significant amounts.

expatinscotland Fri 29-Apr-16 09:05:27

Pension contributions alone is reason enough to marry.

Osolea Fri 29-Apr-16 09:30:47

Financial security for one person can only be guaranteed through marriage by the other person losing a bit of their financial security, so YANBU.

As the person who had more in assets in my marriage, it would have been me who lost out in the event of a divorce, so it certainly didn't improve my financial security while DH was alive. As it is, he died, and because we were married I am able to claim widowed parents allowance that I wouldn't get if we weren't married.

It's always going to be a balancing act between the two people's interests but there are no guarantees, so personally if I'm going to be married, I'd prefer to be married for reasons other than finances.

angelos02 Fri 29-Apr-16 09:44:44

I just don't understand people that take the risk of not getting married if they are in a long-term relationship. It doesn't have to be about religion.

Figmentofmyimagination Fri 29-Apr-16 10:04:23

Osolea I agree with you in a relationship that is to be without children. However, having children invariably disrupts the financial balance between the parties and one partner - not necessarily the woman - is statistically likely to earn significantly less over a lifetime than the other.

In a relationship where both parties are genuinely committed to the lifelong sharing of all child and elder care, this is not an issue. However, if unmarried partners are unable to change their role to eg work part-time or make other work compromises to accommodate the needs of their children when they are young because of the long term risk to their finances, the losers will be the children.

NickyEds Fri 29-Apr-16 10:33:27

I've been with dp for 18 years and we have 2 dc. We're not married and I'm a SAHM. We don't own a house but are joint tenants, have a joint back account, mirror wills, I'm named on his life insurance and he on mine, he has parental responsibility for the kids, have no substantial savings, not entitled to the married allowance (I don't think) and carry next of kin cards so I think we've done all we can. However I think we might get married because of dp's pension. We currently pay over £5k a year into his pension and I can't see a way that I could be entitled to it. My sister was a SAHM and when her and her partner split she was due a property they owned as her "pension", he went on to incur some massive debts and use half of that house to repay them so her "pension" was halved and his enormous (and it really is massive)pot remains in tact. He has now married which complicates things further and she is left wishing she had married a man she can't stand.

Tbh it's giving up work that jeopardises your financial security far more than remaining unmarried. I read on hear people say that they wouldn't dream of giving up work unless they were married as if it's some sort of massive protection when really it isn't. I've known plenty of married men piss off leaving their ex wives up shit Creek too. The risks for me are mitigated by the facts that we are very happy, we've been together a very long time, my job is one I can go back to with relative ease and, sadly I was a low earner so for me it's more than worth it to be at home with the kids.

newmumwithquestions Fri 29-Apr-16 11:13:18

Thanks all, food for thought here. I'll digest later (pretty busy with kids atm!) and come back as I'd like to rely to some of the comments- thanks for taking the time to reply.

WannaBe Fri 29-Apr-16 11:21:50

"If he cheats on you and moves out you will be forced to sell the house if you can't afford it alone. If you were married he'd have to pay the mortgage until your child leaves school." I really wish that people wouldn't constantly say that on here because it isn't true. In some instances it may be possible to obtain a mesher order which would enable the resident parent to remain in the family home until the eldest leaves school, but these are increasingly uncommon.

There is no such thing as an automatic right to stay in the family home.

conkerpods Sat 30-Apr-16 08:08:54

My DP and I have been together for 10 years and we also are not married. We don't want to be married either (both been married before and other reasons).
The house is in my name (bought it before we got together) and DP has no interest in becoming a home owner.
I'm following this thread with interest as I'm about to make a will for the first time.

JaceLancs Sat 30-Apr-16 09:19:03

Thanks for adding that Wannabee
There are far too many assumptions and presumptions around separation and divorce
I have been unlucky enough to lose out massively financially after relationship breakdowns - people can turn very nasty when it comes to money
My exh cheated on me and left the marital home (I was sahm at time with 2 v young children) he then gave up his job so he did not have to pay maintenance, later became self employed and managed to hide some assets and extent of true earnings
Despite not contributing to mortgage he tried to force a sale which took years then I had to buy him out by then equity had increased massively judge decided in his favour and I had to give him £90,000 which I'm still paying off now
I also lost money when not married without children when I thought I had protected myself by having a tenants in common mortgage as I had put more in and paid his debts off when we got together (that time I lost £20,000)
I currently have a friend who has spent all her savings on legal expenses whilst trying to divorce her DH of 30+ years, he is stalling deliberately, covering up financial matters etc to make matters worse as well as property they also had a business together and I suspect she will not get her rightful share of any of it

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