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It may seem like the answer to this question is obvious. Of course, no one actually needs to get married. For some, marriage has always been the end goal, and that’s fine, but there are definitely other’s who aren’t so keen.
You’ll often hear people say things like ‘It’s just a piece of paper’ or ‘We’re perfectly happy as we are’. While all of that is perfectly fine, there are a few things not being married can massively impact, including your finances.
There are lots of reasons you may not want to get married. Previous failed marriages can often have an impact on people’s feelings towards getting married again and with an average divorce rate of around 40%, it’s not difficult to see why.
On top of that, divorce can be messy and expensive especially when there are significant assets, such as property involved.
Common-Law Marriage Isn’t Real
Many people wrongly believe that if they have been living with a significant other for a long period of time that they will be classed as being in a ‘Common-law Marriage’. Unfortunately, under U.K law there is no such thing and no protections exist.
In England and Wales, the laws around the division of assets will only come into play if you are actually legally married (or in a civil partnership).
This can also cause problems if one or other of you dies suddenly. It can make it more difficult to access the deceased’s bank accounts – there have been cases where the partner wasn’t allowed access and it ended up being the parents who dealt with the affairs in instead as they could be legally recognised as a relative.
Not being married can affect inheritance too, especially if you don’t have a will.
If you’d like to read more on the differences between marriage and living together, Citizens Advice has an excellent article detailing the in’s and out’s.
No-one expects to become a widow, especially while they are still young, but if unmarried, your partner won’t be entitled to Widows Allowance which could alleviate some financial strain if the worst were to happen.
See this article from Refinery 29 which talks more about legal rights for cohabiting couples.
While it should never just be about money, married couples can benefit from the government’s tax allowance scheme.
This means if you earn below the threshold to pay tax but your partner is over it, some of your ‘free’ allowances can be used by them, meaning they’ll pay less tax. It will depend on how much you earn as to what you’re entitled to but it is worth taking advantage of as it can save up to £250.
Do I Really Need To Get Married?
Of course, the final decision still remains with you and your partner, but it is best to be fully clued up on what would happen if things went wrong or if one person was to die suddenly.
Having these types of conversations can be difficult, but it will be worth it in the long run.
If You Do Decide NOT to get married:
- Make a will and keep it updated if anything changes
- Remember that common law marriage isn’t a thing
- Read up on the rules and regulations around cohabiting couples so you’re fully aware of the impact not being married can have
- Have in writing what you’d like to have done with digital and social media accounts
If You Do Decide TO to get married:
- Getting married doesn’t have to be big or expensive. Couple plus two witnesses is the cheapest option and you don’t even need to dress up.
- Even if you are married, it’s worth having an up to date will so ensure your inheritance goes where you want it to.
- Have in writing what you’d like to have done with digital and social media account.
These aren’t the only ways to protect yourself financially either. You could look at things like income protection insurance, investing and saving to help future-proof yourselves no matter what happens.