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English law for non-married couples

By FranceInLondon



William Healing, a bi-lingual lawyer based in London, who has dual nationality and who specialises in International family law, explains:

When it comes to non-married couples English law is not as well defined as French law in certain areas. In others however, for instance child support, there are many more legal solutions here in London than in France.

The PACS (A French legal document signed by both parties to officially recognise that they are together and give them the same rights as wife or a husband) – Does it exist in the UK?

The PACS does not exist here in the UK. There is what is called a civil partnership for couples of the same sex but it is not really comparible to the PACS. There cannot be any advantages of any type either financial or otherwise (for instance inheritance or fiscal) if you are living with someone without being married.

Any property only belongs to the person who has his/her name on the title deeds. In some cases however, it may be possible to take into account financial contributions or promises made by one to the other party. This is something that is currently being reviewed and can be seen as complicated, unjust and contradictory. The English Supreme Court clarified its position on the subject in November 2011, concerning properties in dual ownership. It is  very important to have a good adviser when buying or making substantial financial contributions in such circumstances.

Financial Help for the Children – What is the situation?

As far as children are concerned, the amounts awarded by the court to the parent who will be in charge of the children and with whom the children will be residing are generally speaking much more generous in the UK than in France. According to the application of the “Children Act 1989”. For instance, if the children live with their mother, the Court could order the father to pay:

Court Element 1: Accommodation: to put aside aapital to buy a trust, pay a rent or pay a mortgage. The property bought via a trust would be returned to the father once the child has finished his/her studies.

Court Element 2.Schooling costs

Court Element 3. Maintenance for both the mother and the children

Two possibilities in this case:

a) by the Court:

Only relevant if the father’s net income is are over a certain level. Currently, this level is fixed at £104,000 net per year bonus included.

In cases that are over that level, maintenance rarely go over £90k. However, many agreements are signed out of court and can substanciallky exceed this amount. (Note that this level is about to change in 2013 as per a new law and is likely to be applied from the beginning of 2013).

b) Child maintenance out of court : For any of the cases that do not go over a certain level, the amount is fixed according to the Child Support Act 1991 and is as follows : 15% of income revenue for one child, 20% for two children and 25% for 3 children. Both the percentage and the method used are about to change as well. For instance it will be on gross instead of net income. Note the Child Support Agency can help recover maintenance if this is not paid by the other party.

Note also, that contrary to French law, any maintenance that has been received is not taxable.

Court Element 4.  Any other payment made which benefits the child directly or indirectly such as the purchase of a car or a move.

Maintenance, can be awarded by a court in the form of capital or pension (i) if the financial criteria are complied with in respect of one the elements between 1 to 4 above, or if one of the parents and/or the child lives outside the UK. The English Court can then order the wealthier party to pay for the other party’s lawyer’s fees.

William Healing, Partner, bi-lingual specialist in international family law at Kingsley Napley LLP ;; direct line + 44 (0)20 7369 3827


12/01/2013 - whealing said :

Yes, the mother (usually as the chilcarer) will live in the property bought for her by the father (or transferred into an English trust arrangement) until the youngest child finishes school/ university. The trust costs legal fees to set up, but nothing in practice to administer. The father as owner of the property will usually pay property maintenance. This arrangement is only possible, where the father's assets allow him to provide a property. Where the mother an child wish to live outside this jurisidiction, other arrangements may need to be examined.

11/12/2012 - fontanaemi said :

whst sbout inheritance of the property for no married couples with a child?

05/12/2012 - whealing said :

Thanks for your enquiry. Yes the property is bought by the father (assuming he has the wealth and the mother is the main carer) for the benefit of the mother and child. The trust arrangement is a creation of English law. There is no direct equivalent in French law. The trust allows enjoyment of the property by a third party (here mother and child) different from the owner (father) for a defined period. The property is then returned to the father, so the mother and child move out, at the end of the education of the child for the father to deal with as he wishes. The trust of itself involves no mortgage and so no payments, but if there is an attached mortgage, the father can be ordered to pay it. An outright purchase with no mortgage would be a more common situation. The father may be ordered to assist with general property outgoings (property upkeep) and more routine outgoings like utility bills - see court element 3(a) maintenance.

04/12/2012 - cbarreix said :

I am afraid I not well understood Court Element 1 : 'when a child has finished his ou her studies, the property bought via a trust returns to the father' What was his hers situation before ? Is the child living in this property ?
who pays the trust ?


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