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Can someone explain why I'm naive not to get married?

(31 Posts)
bohoec Mon 31-Mar-14 13:33:52

I've read on mn a few times that remaining unmarried with a child is naive.

I'm not married, live with DP and we have 1 child. We have no intention of getting married (I don't want this to be hijacked as a thread about marriage, really. We're both happy with the commitment we've made by having a child together).

We have a joint bank account plus our own accounts, joint mortgage - he pays slightly more than me towards the mortgage as he earns more. We own our house jointly. All bills, food, DCs clothes etc paid for from joint account.

He is in the forces, I am his next of kin in his will. I don't have a will (now on that I KNOW I'm being stupid - I will get it sorted).

I'm p/t, he's f/t. Our salaries are about equal, but mine is pro rata so I take home less. I have a pension with work, as does he, and we're each named in each other's pension plans.

We have no issues about money. I have access to his online accounts and vice versa and there's no tension around what we spend our own money on once bills, food and DCs needs are met (it's not that great, we each end up with about 10p after all that hmm).

So, do we need to be married to protect myself / DC? Or should we get some kind of agreement written up?

We have a good relationship, so I've no reason to think I'll need "protecting" financially, but I'm worried I'm missing something. Am I?

Any advice greatly appreciated.

craftynclothy Mon 31-Mar-14 14:14:21

IMO, it's for a worst case scenario. I wanted to be married before having children (though I had always planned on having some time as a SAHM so did 'need' the financial protection) but I think there's always a risk that one of you could end up financially dependent on the other. I know it's not nice to think about but what if one of you was in an accident and unable to work? Or if one of you had to take on caring duties for a dc?

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 31-Mar-14 14:21:46

I thought I had a good relationship till the day he told me he was having an affair. Bolt from the blue as we were married I had a charge on his pension etc which I would have had if we had not been married.

DorothyBastard Mon 31-Mar-14 14:25:56

Does his will specify that if he died, his half of the house passes to you?

bohoec Mon 31-Mar-14 14:28:30

Lonecat I'm sorry to hear that. Exactly the same for my parents, so I'm not naive in that sense - I know relationships don't always work out.

So, can I just ask, were you any better off because you were married, or would you have had the same protection (charge on pension etc) anyway, as long as you had that in place.

Thanks for your reply crafty. So what I really don't understand is what I'd be entitled to in such a worst case situation, that I wouldn't receive anyway, given our circumstances? With regards to DPs will and forces pension, my next of kin status holds if he were unable to work due to an accident.

throckenholt Mon 31-Mar-14 14:29:11

I think as long as his will covers the right stuff then you are fine. However, since you don't have a will - there may be more issues if you were to die.

Not sure what legal details exactly - but some things become automatic when a couple are married.


bohoec Mon 31-Mar-14 14:29:16

Yes Dorothy. And mine will too (when I get off my behind and do it)

17leftfeet Mon 31-Mar-14 14:30:29

I thought we had a good relationship (2 dc, mortgage etc) until he lost his job and had a complete change in personality, which despite finding a new job, never changed back

We weren't married

He was entitled to and took, half the house and it's contents
Half the value of anything purchased out of the joint account, regardless of how the money made its way into the account

I had gone part time when we had the dcs -this fact was irrelevant when it came to splitting things/maintenance etc

After taking half of everything he now only pays the basic Csa payment for the dcs
The property had to be sold because he wanted, and was entitled to his share straight away, I could not negotiate this around the children's ages

It was a nightmare and I had a hell of a time getting back on my feet

bohoec Mon 31-Mar-14 14:30:55

Throckenholt that's exactly the kind of advice I've been looking for.

Rather than drip feed here I'll have a look at the link and work out my position.

Thank you.

bohoec Mon 31-Mar-14 14:33:14

17 I'm sorry. That's the kind of situation I'm wondering how being married would help. Just off to look through the link a previous poster shared, but thank you very much for sharing your experience. Sorry your situation turned out the way it did. I hope you and your DCs are ok now.

tribpot Mon 31-Mar-14 14:35:10

Ah, I was going to link to the same page as throckenholt.

I would look at this completely dispassionately, in terms of:
- what would happen if one of us died?
- what would happen if both of us died?
- what would happen if one of us became ill
- what would happen if we wanted to split up

None of these things may happen (at least, not whilst you have dependents to worry about) but being prepared is more sensible than being hopeful smile You certainly can protect yourself legally without being married, but I remember a MNer whose husband died a few years ago posting to say how unutterably more difficult it would have been, to get through all the red tape and so on, if they had not had been married at the time.

throckenholt Mon 31-Mar-14 14:39:37

Personally, from the legal perspective, I think if you have kids it is worth being married (for both parties). And since you can do it with no fuss - just book register office and grab a couple of witnesses, there is little reason not to. Doesn't have to be a big spend wedding.

You don't have to change names, or anything else about how you live - but it gives you both a bit of legal protection in a number of eventualities.

meditrina Mon 31-Mar-14 14:40:00

You need to consider all the things on the linked list. You cannot get IHT exemptions other than by marriage. And NOK in Btiain (and much of Eurpoe) is a fairly nebulous concept, so unless you get on badly with his family, it's unlikey to be an issue - unless one of you has an accident overseas in a place with a different interpretation.

Also, he can change his pension beneficiary at any time and you would have no recourse (I assume he is not on the older style military pension which does not pay out to non-marital/CP partners at all). The military is usually pragmatic about unmarried partners in terms of accessing their welfare provision, and as you have a mortgage you presumably are not on a patch, but depending on his postings you might find that you want to be in a legally recognised marriage so you are definitely able to access services.

AllMimsyWereTheBorogroves Mon 31-Mar-14 14:42:32

bohoec, one factor I think might apply (but you need to check this, I'm not a lawyer) is that if your partner were to die or be in an accident you are probably not legally his next of kin. I know he's made you the beneficiary of his pension and his will, and the army are presumably aware of your status in his life, but I know there can be difficulties sometimes when important decisions have to be made (e.g. turning off a life support machine, over funeral arrangements). An unmarried partner can't legally make them or be involved in them unless the legal next of kin (his parents, possibly, on behalf of your children) agree.

georgeousgeorge Mon 31-Mar-14 14:47:53

you are unfortunately looking at this with rose tinted spectacles.

If you split, then he can remove you as his pension beneficiary, if married the pensions both get split equally. (so you end up with your p/t pension and he gets the f/t pension)

You are not legally his next of kin, in the event of incapacity or death.

If married your heirs get a double inheritance tax exemption, they don't if not married. (so he dies and leaves everything to you, then you die and leave the lot to the kids)

From HIS perspective (if any men reading this) you have fewer rights over your children if you are not married when they are born so if you split prior to the birth being registered it is harder to get PR as the mother can leave you off the birth cert, if married you are automatically on it.

Forgetting the rights and wrongs of marriage (or civil partnership) BOTH parties are more legally protected if married.

FairPhyllis Mon 31-Mar-14 15:05:09

You need power of attorney for each other to deal with each other's affairs in the event of incapacity.

By going part time (presumably to do child care), you have taken a permanent hit to your earning power/pension entitlement - which he hasn't. That would be recognised in any financial settlement if you divorced, but not if you split as an unmarried couple. Plus if you split, he would presumably alter his pension and will so you would not be a beneficiary anymore.

If he dies, there will be tax on anything he leaves to you, which there wouldn't be if you were married.

Also, he can change his will/pension at any time in favour of someone other than you. If he died and you found out he'd changed his will and left everything to Battersea Dogs Home, I think you would have no recourse for support from his estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act (which you would have if you were married). Only your child would be able to claim part of his estate under the Act.

bohoec Mon 31-Mar-14 15:12:10

Thanks George. I don't have roseys on, I merely said everything is good at the moment because this isn't a knee jerk reaction to things taking a turn for the worse. I genuinely want to be in the best position, for all of us, in case we split, or either of us has an accident or dies. I really appreciate your advice - exactly the type of things I've been considering in terms of where I / we stand.

Thanks for the next of kin note. He is on the new pension, but I'm never entirely comfortable with how seriously my (non)status is taken by the forces as a partner rather than wife. Particularly as we don't live on a base so I'm a bit invisible anyway.

It seems to me the things I need to consider are mainly inheritance tax, support for me (rather than just DC) if we split, safeguarding charges on pensions (so neither can change our mind), and clarity of next of kin.

I've already discussed this with DP and we'd both be happy to pop to the registry office for a no fuss marriage but I just wanted some advice on why that would be better than the arrangements we have in place now.

This has been really helpful, thank you. And the link was great.

noddyholder Mon 31-Mar-14 15:16:25

I am in similar situation and have everything you have in place plus next of kin cards which all GPs hospitals can organise. My ds is 19 now and I still have no desire to marry and financially would be no better or worse off single

WillieWaggledagger Mon 31-Mar-14 15:30:14

we're not married, but we probably will go ahead at some point - we don't have children yet so it's less of an issue in that respect. we currently earn similar amounts and have one big joint asset (the house) and mirror wills leaving everything to each other

our trigger for eventually getting married will likely be when the effort involved in getting the additional legal protections we want in the future becomes greater than that involved in getting married wink

Bilberry Mon 31-Mar-14 15:55:54

A friend of mine got married when her dh got a job in the gulf (UAE). She wouldn't have been covered as a dependent by his company unless they were married (I'm not sure if the dc would have been either) which is a big-deal in terms of ex-pat allowances. She also wouldn't have got a visa to go with him and once there living together would have been illegal!

FairPhyllis Mon 31-Mar-14 18:33:21

I think the main vulnerability in not being married is in the event of a split rather than one partner dying.

If one partner dies and wills are in place etc then the tax issue is the only real problem. If there's an acrimonious split, people can behave very badly and often try to screw over the financially less powerful partner. You only have to look at all the threads on the Relationships board to see previously apparently lovely partners having overnight personality changes and behaving outrageously over money.

georgeousgeorge Mon 31-Mar-14 23:09:32

I suppose the reason I said "rose tinted specs..." is this from you

We have a good relationship, so I've no reason to think I'll need "protecting" financially, but I'm worried I'm missing something. Am I?

-you have a good relationship so all is rosy NOW, if the relationship falters then you are better being married.

WestieMamma Mon 31-Mar-14 23:20:11

There are a few non means tested bereavement benefits that get paid out if you lose your spouse before you reach retirement age. I sorted them out for my mum when my dad died recently. She got a one off lump sum payment and a weekly allowance for a year. I believe there's an additional one if you have dependent children too. These are only paid to people who were married or in a civil partnership.

Quinteszilla Mon 31-Mar-14 23:24:30

You have covered some stuff already legally, but I think power of attorney, and inheritance tax are big ones to consider.

TheCraicDealer Mon 31-Mar-14 23:26:20

If he's staying in long-term I would definitely be getting married in your position, even just a "ten minutes down the town hall" jobby. Not only have you gone PT after having your baby, as he's the main wage earner you're more likely going to have to compromise your career and future earning potential further if he gets reposted. You don't have the same opportunities if you're moving around every 3-4 years.

The only unmarried couples I know in the forces (admittedly not a huge sample size) with kids are either engaged or the forces partner is leaving imminently. I've said to DP that if I get pregnant we're getting hitched on my lunch break! I think you get added benefits as well, but I'm not really au fait with them. DP says his wage would increase if we got married but I think he might be talking shite.

If you were coming at this from position where you categorically don't agree with the concept of marriage then fair fucks. But please don't not do it because you think everything's grand and you'll never be one of "those couples" who have a really acrimonious break up. You just need to have a look at the relationships board to see how common it is.

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