Is It Better to Marry or Cohabit? 

Whether it is better to marry or cohabit depends on your relationship with your partner, your future goals, and what kinds of protections you need in place. Ultimately, the decision is down to you, but there are a few things you should know about the difference between being married and cohabiting legally speaking. 

What’s the Difference Between Being Married and Cohabiting?

From a legal standpoint, there are many differences between being married and cohabiting. In fact, people think that a cohabiting couple has similar rights to a married couple, but this is not the case. 

For instance, if you separate from your partner when you are cohabiting, you do not have the same rights and protections compared to a couple who are legally married. Even if you and your partner were together for a long time or you have children together, this does not give you automatic rights. Married couples who separate have a legal right to claim maintenance and a share of joint assets such as pensions, property, savings, and investments, unlike cohabiting couples, where no such rights exist. 

In the case of medical emergencies, if you are cohabiting, you will not be treated as your partner’s next of kin unless your partner states that you are in a written agreement. Without the written agreement, you will not have the automatic right to visit them in a hospital or make decisions on their behalf. On the other hand, married couples can make decisions for their partner if they become ill. 

In addition, if your partner dies and you are married, you will usually inherit their estate unless somebody else makes a claim or they name someone else in their Will. Even so, as a spouse, you will have a claim to the estate and can contest the Will if you aren’t named in it. For cohabitees, you can both make a Will to ensure that you can provide for each other if one person dies, or you can create a cohabitation agreement that details what you intend to happen to your finances, investments, and family. 

Similarly, if you live together with children but are not married, you have no legal protection, which means that you might not receive financial support from the other parent if you decide to separate. Regarding parental rights, for married couples or those in a civil partnership, both parents are granted parental responsibility whereas, for non-married couples, parental responsibility depends on a few factors like if the father’s name is included on the birth certificate and if the child was born after 2003.

At GloverPriest, we provide friendly and transparent family law advice. If you would like help with a family law issue, speak to one of our expert family lawyers today. Complete our enquiry form. 

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At GloverPriest, we understand navigating the law can be a difficult task to take on alone. That’s why we created this comprehensive guide to help promote information for everyone to use.

If you’re looking to speak to a solicitor, please call us from the number below. Alternatively, you can fill out our online form and we’ll be right with you.

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