Although marriage involves sharing your life with another, many couples don’t experience this. That aside, marriage automatically changes your legal rights and responsibilities, which this article seeks to highlight. Although UK marriage rates fell by 69% in 2020, it hasn’t changed the laws on legal rights and responsibilities. Therefore, it’s essential to understand these laws to make an informed decision on marriage. That said, here are three ways marriage changes your legal rights and responsibilities.
Unless you signed a prenuptial agreement, every property acquired during the marriage belongs to you and your spouse. This can be a house, an automobile, land, or an asset acquired during the marriage. Depending on where you are in the UK, property you acquire before marriage can become a shared asset after marrying your partner. This means a court of competent jurisdiction will assign a part or all fixed property to your spouse when divorced. This process can be executed without recourse to when that property was acquired.
As part of government benefits granted by the UK government, a surviving spouse will have access to the following:
- Social security benefits of the deceased spouse
- Military or veterans’ benefits
- Disability benefits
Moreover, a husband or wife can gain the UK spouse visa extension when married to a citizen by birth or through naturalisation. Under normal circumstances, a spouse visa extension gives you thirty more days to stay in the UK, after which you can apply for a stay. You can also apply for a spouse visa extension, after which you can apply to be a British citizen.
Right of inheritance
After marriage, a spouse becomes the automatic next of kin to the other. In other words, any prior next of kin arrangement with siblings, parents, or other relatives become null and void. Unless the right of inheritance can be proven unlawful, the surviving spouse takes it all (or the majority) as the next of kin. In most cases, next of kin issues become problematic when a spouse passes away without a will.
In some instances, the inheritance the surviving spouse obtains is considered a non-taxable gift, reiterating that marriage offers some perks supported by UK family law. In other words, you have legal protection to benefit from what rightfully belongs to you. The only rule that overrides inheritance is when the deceased spouse makes specific declarations in the will. In this case, the will takes precedence and not the surviving spouse.
Indeed, marriage changes the legal rights and responsibilities of the couple involved. Therefore, you should be sure it is the path you intend to take before you get married. Moreover, you need to ask yourself if you’ll want your spouse to take control of all your assets when you pass away, as your spouse is recognised by law and will receive the full benefits. Hopefully, you’ll make the best decisions as you ponder on these legal rights and responsibilities that marriage offers.