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Recent Case Highlights Why Separating Couples Should Divorce

Many couples will separate and then wait many years before they get around to divorcing. A recent English case has demonstrated why separating couples should endeavour to end their marriage with divorce sooner rather than later.

Joy Williams, aged 69, had lived with Norman Martin for over 18 years when he died of a heart attack in 2012. The couple owned a house together as tenants in common, and this property was valued at £320,000.

Although Mr Martin lived with Ms Williams, he remained married to his wife. When Mr Martin died, his estate passed to his wife. There was no cohabitation agreement in place, and Mr Martin’s will had not been updated to reflect his relationship with Ms Williams.

Ms Williams took her case to court to make a claim on her deceased partner’s estate.

In this landmark ruling, the judge acknowledged the “loving and committed” relationship the couple shared and ruled that Ms Williams should be able to inherit Mr Martin’s share of the house.

After leaving the court, Ms Williams said: “I hope my situation raises awareness for others to consider their own financial position in relation to their partner and consider whether they need to take advice to protect their each other in future.”

Ms Williams’ lawyers criticised the lack of legal protections for cohabitants and said, “This case highlights the need for co-habitation laws to be brought into the 21st century."

Why Divorce?

Although Ms Williams and Mr Martin had a loving relationship and lived as man and wife, Mr Martin remained married to his wife, who automatically inherited his estate when he died.

Many couples who decide to separate will intend to divorce but will put if off for many years before they finally get around to it. They may see no reason to bother with a divorce if they do not plan to marry again. Both spouses may come to an agreement about things like their shared mortgage and finances, and if things are working well, they may not see any reason to bother with the expense of a divorce.

However, not formally ending your relationship with divorce can cause many problems further along the line. You may have a new partner and would want them to benefit from your estate. A partner who found themselves in Ms Williams position would find that they had very little rights and would have to go to court to try to make a claim upon their partner’s estate. They may also incur high legal fees with no guarantee that their claim would be successful.

Formally ending your relationship with divorce can help you avoid these problems and can protect your loved ones.

Divorce Lawyers Inverness

Contact our skilled and experienced divorce lawyers by filling out our online enquiry form today to find out how we can help you.

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