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Do I have to get legally married?

(26 Posts)
LissyGlitter Tue 07-Jul-09 13:51:46

Is there actually any advantage in this day and age to being legally married? I only ask because it has occurred to me that me and Nick don't seem to actually be any different than if we were actually married-we have one and a half kids together, we have the same surname, we live together and everyone knows we are intending on being together forever. I quite like the idea of having a "special day" where we get all our family and friends together and maybe have a couple of speeches and that, but does it actually have to include signing a document, or can i just start calling DP my husband and myself Mrs (I'm not sure whether i'd be Mrs or stick with Ms, although I suppose having the option of Mrs could come in useful when dealing with old fashioned types).

I like wearing my engagement ring, I know it's pathetic but it makes me feel more respectable when I'm lugging my child and baby bump about the place, but it could easily be mistaken for a wedding ring.

If there is actually a benefit to being married, I don't really mind doing it, it's just doing our own thing kind of appeals to me more, iyswim. Does anyone know?

Ewe Tue 07-Jul-09 13:54:39

How come you have the same surname if you aren't married?

There are benefits to being legally married when it comes to death of one partner, entitlement and rights to house/money/benefits etc I think. Sure someone else will have exact details!

Also the Tories are likely to bring in a married couples tax code when they win the next election.

AlotToSortOut Tue 07-Jul-09 13:55:17

Yeah - if your DP very ill you are not his next of kin, basically his mum or someone would have to sign things, if (sorry) you or your DP died you wouldn't be entitled to eachothers estate (depends on wil etc though), you wouldn't be able to 'own' each others graves, be able to register the death, there is lots more I just can't think at the moment.

Hulababy Tue 07-Jul-09 13:55:18

Many of the benfits of being married come into force if the worst happens and your or your partner dies.

You could do a search on here for Yorkiegirl's post, following her DH's death. She found that because she was married she was entitled to far more help and support, including finanical help for her and her DDs. She would not have been able to access those has she not been married.

It also made it easy when dealing with things after his death.

RealityIsMyOnlyDelusion Tue 07-Jul-09 13:55:45

Message withdrawn

seeker Tue 07-Jul-09 13:55:46

There are a few legal technicalities you need to sort out about mortgages, life insurance, wills, next of kin stuff, but if you've done all that then no, there are no advantages that I've noticed and I've been not married for nearly 30 years. Apart from Widow's benefit if, god forbid, the worst happens. Hence the particular need for life insurance.

We don't have the same name either. Or an engagement ring. I had one about 25 years ago but it broke!

LissyGlitter Tue 07-Jul-09 14:08:19

I changed my name by deed poll (I got a free form off the internet) after DD was born, more so I had the same name as her than him. I just got sick of explaining that we had different names, and I didn't see any ideological benefit in keeping my maiden name as that came from my Dad, so it was still a man's name, iyswim.

We are intending on getting wills if we ever have anything to leave to each other (we rent our house, don't own a car and have no savings) but it doesn't seem to be an issue at the moment.

LissyGlitter Tue 07-Jul-09 14:10:03

With the next of kin thing, I was under the impression you could choose your next of kin-ie on all the forms for my pregnancy care I have put DP as my next of kin and no-one has objected.

posiedullardparker Tue 07-Jul-09 14:12:56

The main benefit is if your partner dies or leaves you, you simply have more rights to his money. The dcs have next of kin to both parents and not just Mummy, too.

If your partner dies you have to pay inheritance tax, husband dies you get everything!

HeadFairy Tue 07-Jul-09 14:13:13

My sister and her dp got married because they were under the impression that if for example one of their dds was in hospital and my sister wasn't around, her dp couldn't sign consent forms as he wasn't married to her. I'm not sure if that's true though.

posiedullardparker Tue 07-Jul-09 14:13:42

You can married for about £40, too.

Iklboo Tue 07-Jul-09 14:17:38

You don't have to do a big day of it if you don't want to. Just registry office with a couple of witnesses and maybe a Happy Meal after to celebrate grin

edam Tue 07-Jul-09 14:18:41

If your partner were to die, and you are not married, you may well have to pay inheritance tax (if his estate is over a certain amount, £300k IIRC - easily reached with house prices as they are + any life insurance). So you could end up having to sell the family home in order to give the Chancellor his share.

You could also find it's the kids that own the house, not you (depending whose name is on the deeds). Which creates huge difficulties if you ever want to move.

Essentially, marriage gives both of you greater legal protection and a massive tax break if the worst ever happens.

paisleyleaf Tue 07-Jul-09 14:36:55

http://www.oneplusone.org.uk/marriedornot/

If you have children there is a widowed parent's benefit that is apparently worth around £400 a month
(you're not entitled to it if you're not married)

And parental responsibilty......
"According to current law, a mother always has parental responsibility for her child. A father, however, has this responsibility only if he is married to the mother when the child is born or has acquired legal responsibility for his child through one of these three routes:
(from 1 December 2003) by jointly registering the birth of the child with the mother
by a parental responsibility agreement with the mother
by a parental responsibility order, made by a court
Living with the mother, even for a long time, does not give a father parental responsibility and if the parents are not married, parental responsibility does not always pass to the natural father if the mother dies."
(from http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Parents/ParentsRights/DG_4002954)

If you're not married you can put things in place to ensure things go the way you want
re life insurance, next of kin, parental responsibility etc should the worst happen
and it's probably worth drawing up a will
there's a 'which? guide to living together' which is supposd to be good
and this website has some advice.....
http://www.advicenow.org.uk/living-together/
....from this website partners can print off a 'next of kin' card to carry in their wallet in case anything awful happens
and there's info about both parents getting parental responsibility

paisleyleaf Tue 07-Jul-09 14:38:41

Duh, links!
www.oneplusone.org.uk/marriedornot/
www.direct.gov.uk/en/Parents/ParentsRights/DG_4002954
www.advicenow.org.uk/living-together/

squeaver Tue 07-Jul-09 14:38:43

Get married. Will save you all sorts of hassle when bad things happen.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 07-Jul-09 14:47:21

Lissyglitter,

Re your comment:-

"We are intending on getting wills if we ever have anything to leave to each other (we rent our house, don't own a car and have no savings) but it doesn't seem to be an issue at the moment".

Oh but it is an issue and one that needs addressing. Many people die intestate and its a protracted process for those left behind to sort out the estate of the deceased. It can take an age to do so and also dying intestate means the intentions of the deceased is not taken into account because they are unknown!. Where would you want any funds of yours to end up with; again if not detailed in a will your wishes remain unknown. If either of you dies intestate the durviving partner will be up the creek financially speaking. All that whilst dealing with your own grief as well.

And you won't be able to claim widows benefit (this is around £80 per week currenly so is not to be sniffed at when finances are still being sorted) because you are his "partner". As a married person you would be entitled to such a financial benefit. Hard as it is, it is money that could be very useful to have during such a difficult time.

You'd be surprised how many people who actually say they have very little financially speaking do have some finances to sort out. What about his pension, who would receive the death in service benefit if he was to die suddenly?. You in law are still not related to each other; some pension schemes will not actually pay out to a partner on death. The Bank and or building society account/s, your tenancy, the overall tax situation; all this and more would be affected immediately in the event of one or either of you dying suddenly. It can spiral and fast beyond your control if he or you were to die suddenly.

If he were to die before you as it stands you cannot act as an executor to his estate or open letters of administration. I know of cases as well where the partner has not even been able to order a headstone for their deceased!. These are all very important considerations generally. His next of kin are his parents - not you. They could well be asked about treatment decisions, decisions which you personally may not agree to. You are, in the eyes of the law, not related to each other.

All I would say is that whether you remain unmarried or not you do a will asap detailing both your intentions. This will go some way to protect you financially in the event that one of you dies suddenly. I guess that neither of you are fully aware of the financial implications of not having a will in place.

On a different subject how did your man feel about you changing you surname by deed poll?. How does he feel about marrying you?. Has he mentioned marriage before, has it even been discussed between the two of you or have you just drifted along with him thinking oh marriage will happen eventually?.

LissyGlitter Tue 07-Jul-09 14:55:35

I ended up changing my name after moaning to him that I was sick of having to explain that I had a different surname to DD. He suggested I simply change it, and I did it the next day online. We are officially engaged, he has given me a ring and gone down on one knee and all that, and we have discussed the idea of just having a "not-a-wedding" like we had a "not-a-christening" for DD.

He has been married before and he says there wasn't really any difference once he was married. It could have been different as they had no kids though. It did mean that DP had to sign a form saying he didn't want any of her money when they were going through the divorce though. He could have probably got some off her (he was her carer so that she could work full time, plus she comes from a very well off family), but i agree with him when he says that isn't really the point of marriage.

skihorse Tue 07-Jul-09 15:56:53

We are not married and have no particular need to do so.

However:
i) Inheritance tax - not an issue right now because we don't have anything!
ii) If he goes back to the army we won't get army housing unless we're married.

edam Tue 07-Jul-09 16:20:14

Attila reminds me, if you have joint bank accounts, you could really be up shit creek if your dp dies as the account could be frozen while the executor (if they die intestate, this will not be you) sorts probate out.

ComeOVeneer Tue 07-Jul-09 16:24:09

Not married and no will, could cause heaps of trouble should anything happen to either of you.

At the very least get wills sorted out asap!!!

MrsTittleMouse Tue 07-Jul-09 16:25:08

It is possible to legally and financially cover most of your bases without getting married, but it's much easier to do it all in one fell swoop by getting married! And more fun too, we found. Saying our vows made us both feel quite soppy and I find it good to remember that when he is driving me up the wall. grin

motherinferior Tue 07-Jul-09 16:27:41

Oh, don't bother. Really. Dreadful stuff, marriage.

motherinferior Tue 07-Jul-09 16:28:46

But then, re-reading your OP, I'm utterly bemused by your urge for respectability/a ring/the same surname/ the term 'husband' too. I suppose you might as well, really, if none of that makes you squirm in horror.

MrsTittleMouse Tue 07-Jul-09 16:39:38

Marriage isn't so bad you know.

The history of marriage is pretty appalling, but the relationship between two individuals that makes up a modern marriage can be excellent.

Lissy - did you know that in a registry office that there are only two legally required sentences? We were allowed to make up the rest of our vows, so long as they weren't religious. So if you want a ceremony that's "your own thing" there's a good chance that you could get it.

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