Women who choose to cohabit with partners rather than marrying them are putting themselves at risk of a precarious financial future.
As increasing numbers of couples are making the choice not to marry. Women who give up successful careers to become full time mothers could in fact find themselves without a home, career or income if the relationship breaks down.
Statistics from the 2011 census showed that for the first time, less than half of the population is married, while the number of couples who cohabit has increased by half.
Unfortunately the law has not kept up with this significant change and as a result, child maintenance regulations leave women at risk in the event of a separation.
The current situation is biased towards marriage. In broad terms, married women are entitled to an equal division of family assets and they also receive child maintenance, while women who do not get married can receive child support but are not entitled to maintenance for themselves or other type of financial relief. They are able to take action through the courts to claim a ‘top up’ child maintenance but this is limited and dependent on the wealth of their partner.
In cases where the father is relatively wealthy, the courts can require them to provide child support and a home where the child can live with their mother until he/she has finished attending school. This still leaves the mother at risk of longer term security unless she has become financially independent by the time the child completes his/her full time education.
Venisha Shah, our family law expert concludes “If current social trends continue without a change in the law, family lawyers like ourselves will be dealing with far more cases like this.”
If you need advice on any element of family law, whether related to this particular issue or any other matter, then contact our family law team on 020 89562655.