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Touchy subject for a lot of people - co-habiting and not marrying - the pitfalls.

(42 Posts)
Ruprekt Tue 29-Jan-13 11:54:25

OK, so many of you may say that I have no experience first hand of this but here is a story I heard from my friend recently.

She and partner had their own business.
Together they had 4 children who are now 12, 14 and twins 18.
Long term relationship.
Very happy.
Huge huge Victorian house. Lived in, scruffy, lovely, happy home. When I visited she would say 'I am not going to apologise for the mess as that would make you think I am going to tidy it and I am not!' grin

When I first met her and got friendly and found out she was not married to partner we had a big chat about how they had just never got round to it and because of things I had read about on MN I said that it might be good to simply get married because of wills and money and rights over children etc

She said she was not bothered about that sort of thing and so I kept quiet. None of my business.

Except that on Sunday, I bumped into her and she and partner have split, but living in same house. She has lost her job as she worked with him. He wants her out of the house and to give her nothing AS EVERYTHING IS IN HIS NAME!!

He is being a git but she did not cover herself financially. She now needs at the age of 47, a new big career to fund her family!

I am gutted for her but at the same time...........ahh, still none of my business.

Anyhoo, this was just a think on ladies. Protect yourself and get things in writing.


Sorry if this offends.

SueFawley Tue 29-Jan-13 12:00:16

I'm a bit confused as to where the comments about her house being messy are relevant confused

I do understand the point about the law and co-habiting, but I found myself at age 46 divorced, skint, and in need of a 'career' rather than just a job that I'd done during 20+ years of marriage. exDH meanwhile has two luxury cars on the drive, three properties here, one abroad, and a very successful business. There are still ways you can get 'shafted' if you want to look at it that way, even if you're married. One of them is if your DH is the MD of ltd company as happened to me.

fuckadoodlepoopoo Tue 29-Jan-13 12:04:55

Has she taken legal advice? Just because he wants to give her nothing doesn't mean he can!

I read on here recently that the courts are starting to treat cohabiting couples more like married couples. Is that not true then?

Is the house not in joint names? Im pretty sure that he can't get away with taking everything even though they weren't married.

Ruprekt Tue 29-Jan-13 12:14:27

I just meant that they were happy and the house was lovely and lived in and they were relaxed with each other and she didnt feel like she had to have a show home.

Not relevant - just the type of person she was.....I was building a picture!

Ruprekt Tue 29-Jan-13 12:15:11

And the house is in his name!

fuckadoodlepoopoo Tue 29-Jan-13 12:26:42

She should definitely get legal advice! Definitely!

The courts won't allow her and the kids to be out on the street and she might be able to show her contribution to the house and business.

SueFawley Tue 29-Jan-13 12:33:05

Ok Ruprekt, I've got the picture thanks. However with the name Ruprekt the main thing I'm visualising is you banging your pans while being introduced to your new SIL grin

I don't know much at all about the law and co-habitation, since I've only been married, but I agree that she should get legal advice. I think people are protected better by the law now in this situation than they used to be.
Advise her to get expert and specific guidance.

Ruprekt Tue 29-Jan-13 12:36:57

grin The cork is on the fork!!!!!! @ Sue

boombangalang Tue 29-Jan-13 12:39:49

Name change for this...
Not a lot she can do about it, well, actually, as she worked in the business for a while, she ought to have some standing? But, unless she wants a dog down dirty fight which is not good for the mental or emotional health of herself and/or her kids. Not unless the ex is being openly frivolous with his lifestyle anyhow.
This is how it went for me - three children, living together, 21 years. Ex 'old friend from school' arrives back in town - ex begins lying, cheating and eventually things go the way they go when this happens and we break up.
House was in his name, I am renting now, she lives in what was my house.
He claims to tax man he makes a loss with his work therefore shirking childcare responsibilities totally - he does not pay a penny for the kids. She is trying for a child herself I am told.
Because he lives frugally to all that care to watch him, there is nothing I can do without a nasty fight to prove he is actually earning nicely. She works as well by the way but lives in the house on him while he supports all bills/mortgage.
I get regular text messages from him taunting me for leaving him - how I have to work a pitiful job to support myself now - the latest one was when they announced the state pension changes where he laughed at me because I had not been working for all the years we were together, therefore have not made enough NI contributions to qualify for full state pension when older - he has thousands in savings, a private pension - learned your lesson now, have you? Is what the text said with a ;) on the end of it.
My children won't talk to him because he refuses to support them, they are furious with him for making me support them all on my own never mind having the woman to live in what was their house.
Legally, I can do nothing at all. If I try to do something, he will mentally and emotionally hammer me until I loose all grip on my sanity - and that is just not worth it. As silly as it sounds - karma is a b**ch and he will get his...
In the meantime - I go to sleep each night and thank God he has gone.

meditrina Tue 29-Jan-13 12:40:28

She needs legal advice, as the children deserve proper housing and a suitable arrangement needs to be made and that could mean her staying in the house until the youngest reaches majority.

There are many threads on MN about the different legal protection during relationship breakdown between married couples and flatmates who share a bed.

People should be free to marry/CP or not, as they wish, but the absence of much legal protection for an ex-partner does need to be properly understood.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 29-Jan-13 12:42:19

"I read on here recently that the courts are starting to treat cohabiting couples more like married couples. Is that not true then?"

Not when it comes to assets. It depends entirely on whether people can prove things like joint ownership of property or joint liability on a mortgage. If a house and mortgage is in one partner's name and the other has been contributing towards it financially but is not named, then they have about as much right to the equity in that asset as a tenant does from a landlord... i.e. none. If all the family savings are in one partner's name, that also belongs to them. The saving grace is usually maintenance for children. That applies whether a couple are married or not.

Legal advice is required and yes, it's sound advice to anyone thinking of having children and cohabiting to have everything relating to property, finance, pensions, wills, assets and similar scrupulously documented .... or get married.... rather than naively hoping for the best.

AgnesAndTheOthers Tue 29-Jan-13 12:43:57

Offends slightyy OP if you are suggesting not being married was the problem? Your friend has been left with nothing through being a bit stupid, not because she cohabits. Why didn't she have her name on the house too?

Best friend went through a divorce five years ago, and believe me she wouldn't say being married protected her financially, far from it.

In currently going through a messy solicitor battle with my ex about our co-owned house. It's got petty and ridiculous and he thinks he's entitled to all sorts. It's a long boring story so I won't go into detail here!
Suffice to say, it would have been far easier and cheaper if we'd been married then get divorced. Split the assets, done.
I wish we'd seen a solicitor when we'd first bought to be honest to go through all the 'what ifs' hmm

Thumbwitch Tue 29-Jan-13 12:54:22

Oh dear, poor woman. She needs legal advice fast, but she may be on a hiding into nothing, as co-habitees are not legally protected at all well, although things may have changed recently, I don't know.
If she can prove she helped build up the business, she may have more of a leg to stand on there - I think she doesn't stand much chance of getting any money where the house is concerned though. sad

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 29-Jan-13 13:07:01

Unfortunately the courts will regards this couple as two separate people with regards to assets. What is his is his and what is hers is hers. "Common law" does not exist in English law.

He is responsible financially for his children but with regards to his ex, he is under no direct obligation to her financially.

Your friend does need legal advice and fast but as a cohabitee her legal position is poor in any event.

PoshPaula Tue 29-Jan-13 13:15:45

I live with a man with whom I have two children, we both work. Because I felt so strongly about my vulnerability linked to not being married to him, after a lot of discussion he agreed to a declaration of trust being written up, in which it is stated that I own 15% of our house (we both have other properties in our own names) and that he cannot sell or rent it out without my permission. This is on the Land Registry entry. Our wills are also made out with each other catered for, as it were. If and when we do marry that will all be fine but I will not live and work in a partnership where I am not mentioned on paper at all!

Phineyj Tue 29-Jan-13 13:53:34

I agree with PoshPaula - I had a tenants in common agreement drawn up when DH and I were living together but not yet married. I had heard a few hrrir stories from friends. It makes me sad that women (and presumably) a few men are so devil may care about this, especially when children are involved. Also if you asked your DP for a written agreement and they were reluctant that might tell you how seriously they took the relationship... I had a work colleague get into this position - a highly educated person, but apparently not aware of the law.

Phineyj Tue 29-Jan-13 13:54:12

Horror not hrrir!

PoshPaula Tue 29-Jan-13 14:18:13

And it's not about claiming 'from him' in the event of a split - it's about protecting your contribution, and what you may have brought to the partnership. Especially if you have met a bit later on in life and perhaps already have children and/or properties of your own.

meditrina Tue 29-Jan-13 14:42:20

If you are not married, you can only "protect your contribution" by having assets in your name (or joint names). If you decide to give your assets to another person, without the underpinning legal status conferred by marriage, then the asset is lost to you at that point. Ditto if you decide to work as an unpaid volunteer or for below the market rate.

OP: you say she was sacked? The boss cannot sack someone out of hand because he is no longer sleeping with her. She may be able to secure some redress through a Tribunal on that one.

CarlingBlackMabel Tue 29-Jan-13 14:53:28

If you are not married make sure the house is owned as 'joint tennants', or if you are contributing a bigger wodge of the equity, own it as 'tennants in common' with a solicitor's agreement stating what proportion you own.

There are no particular benefits to being married IF you have your own independent income, own your property as tennants in common, and have wills abou the children, pensions payments, any joint assets etc.

If you are a sahm who has given up work then I would say marriage is to your benefit. But the OPs friend was working in the business - she laid herself wide open by not having her name on the house or as a stakeholder in the business. But if she can show consistent contributions to the mortgage or significant maintenance and relairs she maight be able to reclaim some from the house. After selling her soul to the lawyers.

But this is about the pitfalls of not looking out for your interests, not of not getting married.

And really, feeling anything but sorry on her behalf is rather unpleasant and smug.

fuckadoodlepoopoo Tue 29-Jan-13 15:06:37

Boombang. That's awful! What a cunt!

OneMoreChap Tue 29-Jan-13 15:40:57

As said earlier, it's not the fact that she's not married, but that their arrangements weren't sorted out.

Because of the way the law works, marriage is an easy way to secure certain legal rights. It also exposes assets, so if there's asymmetry in what's brought to the marriage, one partner may be exposed. But at least talk about it.

I'm sorry she's got the rough end of the stick, but she definitely needs some legal advice. Prior would have been better.

Ruprekt Tue 29-Jan-13 16:19:42

I didnt mean to offend anyone.

Like I said, or should have said, I am not an expert. Just seemed to me that if she had been married (or sorted more stuff out legally!) she would have been entitled to more.

She should have protected herself. There is no way he is going to walk away from HIS house which is in his name. She will have to leave as she literally has nothing.

Am not sure if she will have the strength to fight it through the courts.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 29-Jan-13 16:34:15

She'll fight it for her children. It would take a really stupid not to say selfish man to chuck out their children's mother without a penny and think that he could still look those kids (and their wider family) in the eye. Legally she may face limitations, financially she may end up worse off, but morally she has the high ground and he just looks like a shit...

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