According to a recent article published in the Telegraph, unmarried women who give up successful careers to bring up their children are risking a midlife financial crisis if their relationship comes to an end.

A growing number of women who gave up work to become “full-time mothers” are approaching middle age with no home of their own, income or career because they are not married.

Official results from the 2011 census published earlier this month showed that the number of married people in England and Wales has fallen by 200,000 in a decade while the number of people cohabiting has increased by half. It means that, for the first time, less than half of the population is married.

However, child maintenance regulations have not kept up with social changes, leaving growing numbers of women dangerously exposed financially in the event of a break-up.

Non-working women who divorce are entitled to an equal division of the family assets as well as child maintenance and although unmarried mothers, whose partners are on large salaries can go to court to claim “top-up” maintenance, the benefits are limited.

If the fathers in those situations are relatively wealthy, they can be required to provide both child support and a home where the mother and children can live until the children finish school, although ownership of the property usually remains in the father’s name.

Such provision might offer some relief for mothers but really only amounts to a short-term solution because it disadvantages those women who might find themselves without either a job or a home by the time their children are grown up.

Cohabitation Agreements

At Abacus, we  help unmarried couples enter into an agreement setting out the arrangements which will apply while they are living together, as well as establishing rights on the breakdown of the relationship.

We recognise that a couple who are seeking to live and form a life together find this a difficult subject to broach. However the reality is, in light of the increasing number of unmarried couples now living together, such agreements are now very common.

In our experience, a little bit of time discussing matters at the outset and reaching an amicable agreement could save a considerable amount of time, anxiety and expense should the relationship sadly break down in the future.

Cohabitation Agreements are currently governed by general principles of the Law of contract and it is important that they are drafted correctly in order to ensure that they are binding.

If you need assitance in this area call the Family Department on 0161 833 0044