Rights for "common law wife"

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MarriageQuestion
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Rights for "common law wife"

Postby MarriageQuestion » Fri Nov 23, 2018 5:27 pm

Hi
I've posted under another username for obvious reasons.

Does anyone know the rights for a common-law wife?

My partner and I aren't married, have been together for over ten years and have two children.

He has always been keen for us not to get married and I wasn't too bothered as I assumed that as a "common-law-wife" I had some protection in terms of finances etc if we ever split up.

I understand that in fact that's not the case and I wonder if anyone could help?

We're not looking to split up - but I have just got a little spooked.

Thank you
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petal
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Re: Rights for "common law wife"

Postby petal » Fri Nov 23, 2018 6:59 pm

There’s no such thing legally, can’t believe people still believe this myth exists.
Unless you have a will, your assets will be regarded as your own they have been jointly acquired.
For the mortgage, if possible that a person who’s contributed to the household even if not on it can have some rights.
That is why renters are often given a paper to sign to say they do not intend to stake a claim based on their rental payments.
You need it make sure you are protected if you are worried your partner will somehow leave you in a bad position if you break up.
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juliantenniscoach
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Re: Rights for "common law wife"

Postby juliantenniscoach » Sat Nov 24, 2018 10:07 am

What Petal said.  There is scope to draw up agreements between you two or civil partnerships etc.  One way to address the issue is to ask the question of what happens in the event of either of your death?  Or more complicated, in the event of serious long term illness.  You do need to bring the subject up and take proper legal advice.
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SW12Pops
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Re: Rights for "common law wife"

Postby SW12Pops » Mon Nov 26, 2018 7:15 am

You have almost no rights I'm afraid to say.

You need a lawyer...
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dudette
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Re: Rights for "common law wife"

Postby dudette » Mon Nov 26, 2018 7:27 am

I would urge you to get married or have a civil partnership if they bring them in for heterosexual couples. As the others have said there is no such thing as a common law wife and if one of you dies the other has to pay inheritance tax on anything over the threshold. If you split up your rights are also very limited (and yes - consult a lawyer). I never understand why people don’t want to get married if they have kids. Surely having kids is as big a commitment as you can make. You can just go to the town hall with a couple of witnesses - you don’t need a big all-singing all-dancing wedding.
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Beancounter
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Re: Rights for "common law wife"

Postby Beancounter » Mon Nov 26, 2018 8:06 am

I could tell you a long and convoluted story about my idiot sister-in-law whose partner died suddenly and left her in the most appalling position. My husband, her brother, has been able to help her but she has minimal support from the rest of her siblings who think she was stupid for not ensuring her position and sitting there not earning a living or contributing to a pension for the past 10 years. Have you made wills? Do you have life insurance? Do you have your own pension?? Get to it. Even if there is no problem with your relationship life is uncertain.
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Balance
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Re: Rights for "common law wife"

Postby Balance » Mon Nov 26, 2018 10:34 am

Wow, cant believe how many people posting here are so scathing of a woman in need of advice who is feeling worried.  
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Purple21
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Re: Rights for "common law wife"

Postby Purple21 » Mon Nov 26, 2018 10:57 am

Unfortunately, as has already been stated the term does not exist in the law and sadly you have very few rights in the way you would if you were married or in a civil partnership.  Watching a good friend go through a hideous and very expensive dispute for the last two years with her former partner and father of her children (10 years after he walked out on her) I would strongly suggest you seek some legal guidance now to set up a formal agreement about what will happen to your assets and your children, if you have any, should you split up. I am not a lawyer and have no legal training but have watched this play out with a great deal of distress, frustration and concern for my friend and wish more women knew that there is no such thing as a common law wife. Hopefully you won't ever need it but at least you will have the peace of mind. Best of luck 
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AbbevilleMummy
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Re: Rights for "common law wife"

Postby AbbevilleMummy » Mon Nov 26, 2018 11:00 am

As others have said, you don't have any spousal rights and this is a real issue if one of you were to die due to inheritance tax. Probably more of an issue than if you were to split up as your other half has a financial responsibility to his children, although not you.

I know of a few couples who have popped out one morning and got married as an administrative exercise as opposed to a celebration just to protect themselves financially in the event of one of them dying.

It is a very sensible thing to do. If your partner were to be hit by a bus tomorrow 40% of his assets would be taxed. That could mean you have to sell your house to pay. For the sake of a piece of paper, that risk isn't worth it. If you are married (or in a civil partnership) his assets transfer to you at 0% tax).

This is why there was so much pressure from the LGBT community to have civil partnerships recognised so that all couples/families have the same rights and protections financially.
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MarriageQuestion
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Re: Rights for "common law wife"

Postby MarriageQuestion » Mon Nov 26, 2018 2:24 pm

Thank you to everyone who replied - I think I better either do some proposing in the next few weeks or drop hints :-)

The 40% tax thing is really scary...
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atbattersea
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Re: Rights for "common law wife"

Postby atbattersea » Mon Nov 26, 2018 3:06 pm

If you have any property in joint names (ie a flat/house) then the presumption is that this is owned in equal proportions, unless there is some other agreement.
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clare74
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Re: Rights for "common law wife"

Postby clare74 » Mon Nov 26, 2018 6:45 pm

Marriage is great if you are both happy with that as a solution- in which case, I hope a ring appears very soon!

A legal option if yous stay unmarried is a 'cohabiting agreement' which would set out what you each agree would happen if things went wrong in the future. I really recommend getting in touch with Anne McAllister at Morrisons law firm in Wimbledon who is both lovely and knowledgeable. (I was discussing this very matter with her recently.) https://www.morrlaw.com/lawyer/anne-mcallister/ 

If you don't have a will, please also do this now! At the moment, if one of you died then in theory the assets would pass to the children when they are 18 - not to the surviving spouse. And there may be the 40% inheritance tax to pay, depending on the level of assets. It doesn't need to be complicated to do this - a straightforward 'mirror will' for each of you to leave assets to each other and then pass to children after is what people usually opt for. It would also include who you'd wish as guardians for children which is important if, in the worst case of all, neither of you was around. (If not specified, the local council decides.)
I can assist here or can introduce you to someone locally. There have certainly been recommendations here in the past as well. 

Another area that families often think about whilst dealing with this gloomy topic is life assurance while you have dependent children. It's not what you asked about so I won't go into details, but feel free to get in touch. (FYI, I'm a financial planner and wealth manager, and I can tell you from many clients that you are most definitely not alone in what you had previously thought. I'm glad you've brought some light to this subject.)
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Jellie75
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Re: Rights for "common law wife"

Postby Jellie75 » Mon Dec 03, 2018 7:54 pm

An additional note to add - if you do marry, you will need to re-register the birth of your children afterwards to ‘legitimise’ them.

My parents finally tied the knot last year after a 44 year engagement and had to re-register my birth at the ripe old age of 40something. It was SO tempting to embellish my name! :lol:
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atbattersea
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Re: Rights for "common law wife"

Postby atbattersea » Mon Dec 03, 2018 9:35 pm

I'm pretty sure that there's no longer a concept of illegitimacy, all children are legitimate heirs.
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Jellie75
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Re: Rights for "common law wife"

Postby Jellie75 » Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:03 pm

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1976/31/section/9

Here is a link to The Legitimacy Act 1976 - I don’t know if this is a strictly upheld law, but nonetheless, it is a legal requirement to re-register a child’s birth after the marriage of the natural parents. 🤷‍♀️
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