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What are the legal benefits of marriage?

By , on Monday June 10, 2024 at 1:00 pm

While marriage is a wonderful celebration of a couple’s love and commitment to one another and is seen as the next natural step in many relationships, it is important to remember that it is also a legal arrangement.

By extension, that means marriage usually comes with certain benefits. Exactly what a couple receives will depend on various factors, but there are plenty of marriage benefits which everyone will have access to once they have tied the knot.

Our family law experts can provide specialist advice on the benefits and legal implications of marriage, so you can be certain you understand how your position might change.

Do married couples get any benefits?

In short, yes, there are many benefits of being married in the UK. While these benefits may not be the driving force behind the decision to marry, it is important to consider what they will mean for you, your partner, and any future children you have.

What legal benefits do married couples get in the UK?


A significant benefit of marriage is that there are certain tax breaks and exemptions. These include the married couple’s allowance, the ability to transfer assets between spouses to minimise tax liabilities and the fact that on death there is no inheritance tax to pay by the surviving spouse.

Alongside these tax benefits it’s important to realise that if you marry, you will become financially tied to your partner. In the event of the marriage ending in divorce all assets are considered joint and will be available to be divided to meet the needs of both parties.  This will include any income, property, savings, investments, pensions and inherited wealth.

Prior to marriage, it is often sensible to consider signing a prenuptial agreement. This is a document which sets out a couple’s financial rights and obligations, which is then referred to during a divorce. This can be an effective way of protecting any premarital wealth.

Inheritance rights

In the UK, if you die without a valid Will in place, your estate will be distributed according to the Rules of Intestacy. Unmarried partners have no automatic right to inherit under the Rules of Intestacy, which can create a number of complications.

Therefore, a significant legal advantage of marriage, is that that you and your partner obtain inheritance rights, even if neither of you have a Will.

Even if you are married, it is still important for you and your partner to have valid Wills so that you can clearly set out wishes for your estate in the event of your death.

Parental responsibility

Parental responsibility is the legal rights and responsibilities that parents have towards their children. All biological mothers have automatic parental responsibility from birth, but who else has parental responsibility will depend on the circumstances.

Marriage can make the issue of parental responsibility much more straightforward. If someone marries the birth mother, they will have parental responsibility, irrespective of whether the marriage happened before or after the birth of the child.

Are there any benefits to remaining unmarried?

Some people may believe that effectively relinquishing control of their assets would be reason enough to remain unmarried. However, as discussed above, any fears over the future of premarital wealth can be rectified by signing a prenuptial agreement (or postnuptial after marriage).

If you have no plans to marry, but you are living with your partner, it could be in your best interests to sign a cohabitation agreement.

A cohabitation agreement is a contract that a cohabiting couple can sign to clarify their rights and responsibilities concerning their property, finances and assets. They can be used to record any essential facts about each partner’s position and what arrangements should be made if the relationship breaks down.

In some cases, cohabitation agreements can also be used to make additional arrangements, such as those involving children.

Our solicitors are here for you

If you need advice about the benefits of marriage, or you would like to make sure that your position will be solidified via a prenuptial or cohabitation agreement, our expert family law solicitors will be able to lend their support.

Marriage is a major step, and despite the various legal benefits you could be entitled to receive, we understand that it may not be the right choice for everyone. Our team can work with you to help you clearly understand what marriage would mean for you and your family, so you have all the information you need to look ahead to the future.

For advice on the legal implications and benefits of getting married, or any other associated matter, take advantage of a free 30-minute telephone appointment to discuss your situation, by calling 0800 321 3832 or completing our online form.

Alison Ratchford
Divorce and family lawyer Warwick

Blog Author - Alison Ratchford

Alison RatchfordAlison Ratchford

Alison is a divorce and family lawyer based in Warwick. She has a reputation for giving practical family law advice to her clients and has a natural ability to empathise with her clients and their difficult situations.


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