Not many parents are aware that if they have children together and then marry each other afterwards, they are required in law to re-register their children’s births. There has been quite a lot of confusion about this on social media and parents’ forums and groups. Our blog aims to help clear up that confusion.
The relevant legislation is Section 2 of The Legitimacy Act 1976, which requires parents to legitimise their child after their marriage. This dates back to an age when illegitimate children (those born to unmarried parents) were unable to inherit from their parents. Registering children born before their parents’ marriage means the children would be legally recognised as “children of the marriage” and therefore able to inherit their parents’ estate.
There are many common misconceptions surrounding divorce, here we dispel some of the most common myths.
My spouse has cheated so they will receive less of the marital finances as a result.
The fact used in the divorce petition, in this case "adultery", has no bearing on the fair division of marital finances. Only in extreme cases would the behaviour of one spouse affect the financial settlement. While morally it may seem unfair to the non-adulterous party, the Court is primarily concerned with reaching a fair settlement that meets the needs of the spouses and their children and the behaviour of the parties is not judged.
I can’t get a divorce as my spouse won’t agree.
Consent from the respondent isn’t always necessary for a divorce petition to progress. If you believe your spouse will ignore the petition and not return the acknowledgement of service, don’t panic, as there are still ways in which you can progress the divorce. In most cases, once the respondent understands that they do not have to admit to behaviour cited in the petition, they will eventually cooperate with the process.
Q: My ex-partner has told me that she and her new partner intend to move to New Zealand with our three children. Her partner has been offered a job there, and she sees it as an “opportunity of a lifetime". I would like the children to remain here. This is the only country they’ve lived in; they are settled here, doing well in school, enjoy lots of activities and friends, and all their extended family live here. My ex has said that she is taking them and I can’t stop her. What can I do?
A: This is understandably a worrying time for you. You don’t say if there is already a Child Arrangements Order in place or not, or what the current arrangements for the children are. From what you have said, the children sound very settled where they are, and their entire lives are centred on the area where they live.
For a parent to move a child abroad to live, they would require the agreement of all those with Parental Responsibility (which is usually just the other parent), or they would need to obtain leave (permission) from the Family Court.
This means that if you don’t agree to your wife taking your children abroad, she will need to apply to the Family Court for a Specific issue Order, requesting leave to take the children to New Zealand. This application is commonly known as "Leave to Remove". Alternatively, you could apply for a Prohibited Steps Order that would stop your ex taking your children out of the UK – it won’t prevent her freedom of movement, so she would still be free to move to New Zealand, but not with the children.
Q: My ex-husband and I divorced five years ago; we have one daughter aged eight who lives with me. Things are amicable, up to a point. I have been offered a fantastic new job that would allow me to provide our daughter with a much better life, but it would mean moving about 40 miles away. The new area has better schools and housing stock, and our overall life would be improved as there are excellent facilities in the new town. However, my ex is adamant he can stop me moving – can he?
A: Congratulations on the job offer and for having kept matters amicable for such a long time. In short, no, he can’t prevent you from moving, but he could seek a Prohibited Steps Order to stop you taking your daughter out of the area you currently live in. This would be a rather extreme step to take, and the Family Court would have to be convinced that the move to the new town would not be in your daughter’s best interests.
The myth of common-law marriage is one that persists year after year.
There are now more than 17.5% of families in the UK where the parents are not married but cohabitating, and with cohabitation rising from 1.5 million couples in 1996 to 3.3 million couples in 2016 (according to figures from the Office of National Statistics), there has never been a greater need to dispel the common-law marriage myth than there is now.
Despite the long-running myth, many cohabitating couples do believe that, if they live together for a certain number of years, they will be afforded the same legal protection as a married couple and that the law will recognise their relationship as a marriage. However, this isn’t true, and cohabitating couples have no automatic entitlement to make a claim on each other’s assets should the relationship end.