To marry or not to marry?
The latest figures published by the Office for National Statistics are showing some interesting changes and trends developing in how we are choosing to conduct our personal lives.
Statistics show that more couples are choosing to cohabit over ‘tying the knot,’ with the number of families headed by cohabiting couples increasing by a massive 30% in the last 10 years. It is perhaps then not surprising that the divorce rate has dropped by almost 3% in just one year and divorces are said to be at their lowest level for some 40 years. The rate of people choosing to marry has been on the decline since 1973 however, in recent years, and certainly since the start of our recovery from the recession, it is slowly starting to pick up again.
Whether the level of couples choosing to marry will ever reach the rates we saw in 1973 is yet to be seen but with the introduction of same sex marriages and a stronger economy, we can perhaps expect to see more people taking that leap from ‘living together’ to marriage.
In the meantime however, we cannot ignore the fact that more and more couples are choosing to cohabit and, with this in mind, the question has to be asked – what is being done to protect their interests? Currently the law provides little protection for cohabiting couples which is in stark contrast to the protection and ‘awards’ offered to those who choose to marry.
Married couples benefit from various ‘tax breaks’ in respect of inheritance tax, capital gains tax and income tax, not to mention the additional awards that can be passed between spouses in relation to certain types of pension policies. In the event a marriage breaks down, spouses also have the knowledge that the law will provide for a fair division of matrimonial assets.
Those couples who choose to cohabit will have to take more proactive steps to protect their relationships and financial security both in their lifetime, during the relationship and in the event of death or breakdown of the relationship. Such measures can include Cohabitation Agreements, Declarations of Trust surrounding property ownership and Wills.
Couples do not necessarily think to take advice on such matters but those who do are finding that by putting some fairly simple measures into place they can benefit from significantly greater financial security, both now and in the future.
We can help ...
Relationships do fall apart all too frequently but that doesn't make it any easier for the people involved. Inevitably, it's an emotional and stressful situation, and the down-to-earth, objective approach of an experienced adviser will help you get through it.
For more information please contact Gail Brooks, Associate, Private Client - Family.
Published: 8 Jan 2016