Are There Any Benefits Of Being Married Vs Living Together?

If you are wondering whether there are any benefits of being married versus living together with your partner, you will find a detailed discussion on the topic in the following blog post; where we will explore the financial and practical implications of marriage.

Are There Any Benefits Of Being Married Vs Living Together?

While this is a debatable topic that can only be answered best by each individual taking account of their unique personal circumstances, generally speaking, there are many benefits of being married versus living together. 

Marriage is a legally binding contract that comes with a number of benefits, both financial and personal. In the UK, married couples are entitled to certain tax breaks and can claim certain benefits that are not available to those simply living together. 

Some of the key financial benefits of being married as compared to living together include the following:

  • Married couples can transfer money and assets between each other without any tax implications. On the other hand, unmarried couples can only transfer a limited amount to each other.
  • They can also benefit from Marriage Allowance through which the spouse with a lower income can transfer up to £1,260 of their tax-free Personal Allowance to the spouse with a higher income. This reduces their collective tax bill by up to £252. This is not the case if you live with a partner without marriage.
  • When it comes to tenancy agreements, unmarried partners will need to have a joint tenancy agreement to enjoy equal rights to the property otherwise there can be challenges for housing arrangements at the end of a relationship. This is not the case for married couples as they enjoy equal rights whether or not their name is on a tenancy agreement.
  • If a spouse claiming State Pension dies, their payments are automatically transferred to the surviving partner. This can help them if they are retired or on a low income.
  • Married couples who share joint bank accounts also avail of the same benefit. If one of them dies, the other spouse has continued access to the late spouse’s deposit in the account.

However, in the case of welfare benefits, the incomes of both partners will be taken into account for a means test; whether they are married or living together. 

Married couples also have increased stability and security in their relationship, and they tend to have higher levels of satisfaction and commitment than those simply living together. 

There are, of course, some downsides to marriage as well. It can be more challenging to get out of a marriage than it is to end a cohabiting relationship, and there can be added stress and pressure that comes with being married. 

How Does Marriage Affect Your Tenancy Agreement?

Married couples enjoy equal rights and responsibilities whether or not both of them are named on the tenancy agreement. This means that both of them are equally responsible for rental (and council tax) payments, maintenance of the property as per the tenancy agreement, as well as the right to occupy the property.

In the same way, if their marriage comes to an end, both spouses have equal rights to live on the property. If the tenancy agreement is a joint one and one of the spouses chooses to leave the house, they will still remain responsible for rental payments, unless a new tenancy agreement is drawn up in consultation with the landlord that names the occupant spouse as the sole tenant.

As per the Family Law Act 1996, the tenant (and spouse in this case) who continues to live in the property can apply for a tenancy transfer to their name if the other partner leaves the house.

How Does Marriage Affect Your Benefits Payments?

Some of your benefits payments will be affected if you are married as you will be required to make a joint claim versus a single-person claim. However, the same rule applies if you are living together with a partner as anyone sharing your house is assumed to be contributing their income as well. 

Therefore, your benefits payments are affected by each of you having to give up your individual claims for a joint one.

For instance, if both of you were getting Income Support before marriage, only one of you can claim the benefit after marriage. Your payments can be classified as follows:

  • If both partners are 18 years of age or older they can claim £121.05
  • If both partners are younger than 18, or one is under 18 and the other is between 18 to 24 years old, they can claim £61.05 (or £121.05 if they have children)
  • If one of the partners is under 18 and the other is 25 years or older, they can claim £77.00 (or £121.05 if they have children)

On the other hand, when it comes to income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, each partner will be tested separately regarding their eligibility for a joint claim. In certain circumstances, married couples can also make individual claims for JSA.

In the case of children and your intention to claim Child Benefits, only one of the spouses can claim the benefit on behalf of their child as long as you qualify and your child is 16 years of age or younger.

Married couples need to file a joint claim for Tax Credits or Universal Credits. When your claim Universal Credit as a married couple, you can receive payments through one of the following options:

  • If you and your partner are under 25 years of age you can claim £416.45 a month. 
  • If you and your partner are older than 25 you will get £525.72 a month. 


The above discussion helps to conclude that while the choice between getting married and living together is personal, the benefits of being married versus living together, favour the former. That said, according to a report in the House of Commons Library, there are more than 3.6 million unmarried couples who live together in the UK and 22% of them would choose not to get married or enter a civil partnership.


Living together and marriage: legal differences – Citizens Advice

Getting married: what are the financial and legal benefits?