Civil partnerships for heterosexual couples – an update

Big news for heterosexual couples who don’t want to get married – the law is about to change to allow you to apply for a civil partnership. It’s been a while coming, but one of the last areas of inequality in the world of formally recognised partnerships is about to be rectified. The choice to opt for a civil partnership rather than marriage has been closed to heterosexual couples ever since civil partnerships were introduced in 2004, when the Civil Partnership Act stated that only same-sex couples were entitled to…

When the end of summer spells the end of marriage

September is traditionally a time of new beginnings, with children off to school or university and parents back to work, but for many couples, the end of summer can spell the end of marriage. Lawyers often talk about ‘divorce day’ in January and report a similar surge when summer holidays are over, and research1 looking at the timing of divorce petitions bears this out, with peaks after the summer and winter holidays.  The researchers suggest that while troubled couples may view holidays as a time to stand together for children…

Civil partnership or cohabit – which is better?

Not everyone wants to get married in a church or registry office. For many cohabiting couples, a civil partnership is far more attractive – it moves away from the idea of women being the ‘property’ of their husbands and is infinitely more acceptable to those who do not follow any particular faith. Civil partnerships have been available for same-sex couples since 2004, yet they are still not available for heterosexual couples who cohabit. In June the legality of denying heterosexual couples the right to have a civil partnership was challenged…

Flying the nest: do parents and children have rights over who lives under their roof?

For Generation X'ers and Baby Boomers, it was unthinkable to stay at home beyond a certain age, usually your late teens to early 20s. With reasonably affordable property prices and rents, most of those born from 1960 onwards had probably flown the nest by the time they were 18. However, today’s ‘Millennials’ face a huge housing problem, with astronomical property prices well beyond the reach of anyone even on a good salary, and high rents. That means more 20-somethings (and even those in their 30s) are still living at home…

Your rights as a step-parent after a divorce

If you’re a recently divorced step-parent and are wondering what rights you have in regard to seeing your step-children, there’s a number of things you need to know. Here, we take a look at what happens after a divorce, what measures a step-parent can take in order to gain access to a step-child, and whether there any financial obligations that needs to be met. A legal definition of a 'step-parent' In order to work out what legal rights and responsibilities are shouldered by step-parents after a divorce, we first need…

How to make a custody battle less painful for everyone, especially the kids

No matter how bad a marriage or partnership breakdown is, it can be ten times worse if there are children involved. Every situation will be different and depend on the unique circumstances of the family unit. But whatever happens, it is imperative that the children are protected from any animosity between the parents. Put simply, no matter how acrimonious the break up, making the process as stress free as possible for the children should be everyone’s concern. It will certainly be the family court’s number one priority above everything else,…

Access Disputes – how to settle your differences without going to court

Whether you are married, in a civil partnership or just living together, splitting up can be an emotional time. If there are children involved, the feelings of hurt and anger can be magnified. However, this is the time when your children need you to be at your most level-headed. With Legal Aid now only offered in a handful of cases, more couples are trying to resolve their differences without going to court. While it may not be possible in every case, settling issues such as access to children without appearing…

Common law myths – Your rights as an unmarried couple

In today’s society, it’s increasingly common for couples to live together as ‘common law’ spouses or co-habitees rather than getting married. The danger of this is that many co-habitees believe they have the same protection as a common law husband or wife, which simply isn’t true. In reality, you have very little protection as an unmarried couple should the relationship end or if one of you dies. What are your rights if you break up? If your relationship ends, an unmarried partner who has stayed home to care for children…

Can pre-nup agreements help to save your marriage?

Wedding season is just around the corner, and has an extra buzz thanks to the brace of royal weddings planned for 2018. If you’re tying the knot this year, it’s likely you’ve spent time carefully planning everything from bouquets to bunting. But have you given a second thought to a pre-nuptial agreement? Some couples just don’t want to think about what happens if there isn’t the dreamed of fairy-tale ending. But what if a pre-nup could actually help make your marriage stronger? What can a pre-nup do? A pre-nup is…

Cohabitant agreements – giving unmarried couples rights

It’s an unfair fact of life, but in the eyes of the law a married couple has far more protection than a cohabiting, unmarried partnership. Even if you’ve spent years jointly contributing to the running of a house, split paying the mortgage between you, have children together, or have been living with each other for decades, the loss of a partner could change everything. If the relationship ends either through separation or bereavement, unmarried cohabiting couples do not have the same or similar rights as married couples. They don’t have…

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