legal rights

Read the latest articles on Family Law from our expert Family Law solicitors here at Evolve Family Law in Manchester & Cheshire.

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Legal Rights of Separating Unmarried Parents

Legal Rights of Separating Unmarried Parents

If you are coming out of an unmarried relationship and you have dependent children it is important to understand your legal rights and potential claims against your ex-partner. Do not assume that you or your former partner has no rights because you did not get married and you did not enter a civil partnership. The law distinguishes between former cohabiting couples with dependent children and those without children or those who have adult children. In this blog, our family law solicitors focus on the rights and claims of ex-cohabitees with dependent children. For expert advice call our team of family lawyers or complete our online enquiry form. Your potential claims as a separated unmarried parent As a separated unmarried parent, you can claim: Child support Top up child support if the Child Maintenance Service has made a maximum assessment School fees if private education is affordable and thought to be in your child’s best interests Extra costs of looking after a child with a disability Lump sum payments if money is needed for specific items for your child Help with housing whilst your child is dependent on you Your rights as a former cohabitee are far more limited than if you were married or in a civil partnership. For example, you cannot claim spousal maintenance for yourself or claim a share of your partner’s pension or business. As an unmarried partner, you cannot claim a share of the equity in the family home unless you are a joint legal owner or, if the property is owned in your former partner’s sole name, you may be able to claim a beneficial interest in it because of the contributions made by you to the property or under property or trust principles. A separated parent with dependent children has more potential claims than an unmarried partner with no children or children who are now adults. However, even if you have children, you cannot make claims for child support unless you are the child’s main carer. If care is shared equally child support is not payable even if one parent earns substantially less than the other parent. Housing claims when you are an unmarried parent An unmarried parent can choose to bring a property claim (arguing that they are entitled to a share in the equity in the family home even though the property is legally owned by their ex-partner). This type of claim is made under the Trust of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996. Alternatively, or in addition, an unmarried parent can bring what is referred to as a Schedule 1 claim for housing for their child. If you succeed in proving that you have a beneficial interest in a property the share of the equity you are awarded by the court is yours to keep if the family home is sold. The court can order the sale of the property to help realise your money if your ex-cohabitee cannot or will not agree to the sale of the property or if they cannot raise the money to pay you your share of the equity by taking out a mortgage on the property. If you bring a Schedule 1 claim you are asking the court to order that housing be provided for your child. The equity in any property provided as accommodation belongs to your ex-partner. You and your child only have a right to live in the property until a specified date. That is normally when your youngest child reaches 18 or moves out of the property. A Schedule 1 claim therefore does not provide you with a long-term housing solution but, depending on the age of your child, could provide you and your child with mortgage or rent-free accommodation for several years. [related_posts] Schedule 1 applications An unmarried parent can claim Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 asking the court to make financial provision for their child or children. The court will assess the needs of the child. This is a different approach to a divorce financial settlement where a divorce judge considers a range of factors, including the reasonable needs of the husband and wife. Generally, any financial child support made under Schedule 1 will last only until a child is 18. If the court makes an order for the provision of a home this is called a settlement of property or transfer of property. The property could be the former family home or a different property, to be purchased by your ex-partner, but ordered to be used to accommodate your child and you until your child reaches a specified age. The court could also make a lump sum order under Schedule 1 to furnish the property to meet the needs of your child. Navigating unmarried partner claims It can be hard to work out if your best route is to make a property claim or a claim under Schedule 1 or both. Our experienced family law solicitors can help you work out the route that is best in your circumstances. For expert advice call our team of family lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.
Robin Charrot
May 21, 2024   ·   5 minute read