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November 24, 2023

Children and the Unmarried Couple

NINA BENEST

NINA BENEST

In Jersey, if you have children with your partner and you are not married or in a civil partnership, you have nearly the same rights as far as the children are concerned as you would if you were. However, there are some differences. 

Parental Responsibility

The mother of a child, whether or not born in wedlock or to a civil partnership, always has parental responsibility for her child.

The father also has parental responsibility for such a child if the child is born on or after the 2nd December 2016 and he is named on the birth certificate as the child’s father.  Unmarried fathers of children born before 2nd December 2016 do not have automatic parental responsibility.  They will only acquire it by entering a parental responsibility agreement with the mother and lodging it with the Court or making an application to Court for a parental responsibility order.

Parental responsibility means you are able to make certain decisions about your child’s life and are entitled to information. 

Fathers married to their child’s mother at the time of the child’s birth will automatically have parental responsibility for their child. 

Child Maintenance

Anyone who has a child has a moral and legal obligation to support them financially.  It is not possible to extinguish that liability. Child maintenance is not dependent on marital status or gender. Regardless of whether you are married you are able to pursue child maintenance in court if necessary. There are different sections of the law that are engaged depending on whether you are married but the legal principles applied are the same.

Spousal Maintenance

You are not entitled to spousal maintenance if you are unmarried.  As the term suggests spousal maintenance only arises on the breakdown of a marriage.  Therefore, if you stayed at home as an unmarried parent to raise the children this fact in itself does not provide a legal ground to apply for periodic payments for you per se.  Financial provision is only available in cases involving unmarried couples where there are children and a claim arises under Schedule One of the Children Law.

Family Home

If you are a cohabiting couple with children and the house is owned in the name of your partner you have no recourse to the property unless you can prove unjust enrichment. This means essentially that your contribution to the property should be repaid on the basis that it is equitable to do so or the other person will receive an unjust benefit. Although this is possible it is a costly option and is likely to be contested.   You may have recourse to financial assistance from your former partner to help you provide a roof over your children’s heads by making a Schedule One application.

If you would like to chat about your situation with one of our family team, we would be happy to help. Please call and make an appointment with Nina or Clare on 875875.

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