Financial rights of married vs. unmarried parents after separation
A survey has revealed that nearly half of British people incorrectly believe that unmarried parents have the same rights as married parents when it comes to seeking financial support for children after separation.
A YouGov poll carried out on behalf of the law firm Seddons suggests that 47% of us think that unmarried parents who separate have the same opportunities to claim financial support for children as divorcing parents. This is not currently the case.
Under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989, unmarried parents can seek financial support from ex-partners , but this is currently the only route available to them. Further investigation reveals that very few parents are actually taking this option, with only 141 single parents granted this financial support by the Central Family Court in 2014.
Seddons say that the survey results have highlighted the need for reform, citing the Co-Habitation Rights Bill which has recently been reintroduced in the House of Lords after being abandoned by Parliament prior to the 2015 general election. If passed, the bill would protect the rights of unmarried couples who live together, including the right to seek financial support after separation, in the same way as parents who have been married.
Unmarried co-habiting couples are the fastest growing family type in the UK, having risen by 29.7% between 2004 and 2014  so it’s important that these parents understand what their rights are, particularly when facing a separation and making financial plans for the future.
Speaking in the Family Law journal, Seddons Partner and Head of Family Deborah Jeff said:
“The newly reintroduced Cohabitation Rights Bill would go some way towards clarifying unmarried couples’ rights, so it is therefore imperative that the newly elected Government tackles this… Doing so would give much-needed clarity and redress to the millions of UK families involving unmarried parents”.