Three’s a crowd – The financial implications of being in a throuple

There has been a recent celebrity trend for being in a throuple, with familiar names such as David Haye, Brooklyn Beckham, and Selena Gomez all partaking in the trend. Here, Lisa Brown looks at what it means to be in a throuple and what it means from a financial perspective.

So, what is a throuple?

A throuple is, put simply, a romantic relationship between three people.  It can take various forms.  Each party may be equally involved or there may be a primary relationship between two of them.

What does it mean legally?

Polyamourous relationships are not recognised legally in the England and Wales.  You can only marry or enter into a civil partnership with one person at a time.  If you were to marry more than one person outside of the England and Wales, then this would be considered void and can be annulled.

This means that in the eyes of the law, a throuple either lives as cohabiting partners, or two members of the throuple are married or in a civil partnership in a more formal legal relationship compared to the third party of the throuple.

What is the difference from a financial perspective?

Cohabiting couples in England and Wales do not currently have any special protection or rights against each other.  Despite popular belief there is no such thing as a “common law marriage” and this remains the case no matter how long the relationship lasts.

What this means is that somebody could be in a 20-year relationship with an extremely wealthy person (or persons) and still exit with nothing.

The starting point for a cohabiting relationship is that you each simply retain what is legally in your name when the relationship ends.

Whilst exiting with what you brought in might seem fair for Una Healey when leaving a relatively short relationship with David Haye and Sian Osbourne, it does very much depend on the circumstances.

With marriage and civil partnerships not an option for all three people at the same time, the only other option for them to consider would be a cohabitation agreement to set out the intention should the relationship/s break down.  Cohabitation agreements can be very useful tools although they are not 100% legally binding.

What if two people in the couple get married or enter into a civil partnership?

Should two parties of the throuple decide to legally marry or enter a civil partnership, it would significantly alter the legal relationship between those two individuals, and they would each have potential financial claims against the other for property to be transferred, lump sums to be paid, pensions to be shared and spousal maintenance.

Within a throuple this would mean that the person not in the marriage is in a significantly different position to the other two.  This could be a big disadvantage but, in certain circumstances, it may also be an advantage.  For example, if the member not in the marriage were significantly wealthier than the other two, they may not want to be exposed to the potential claims that being married brings.

What about children?

Where there are children in a relationship there is also a possibility of one parent making a financial claim on their behalf against the other parent under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989.

These types of claims are limited to needs of the child and can include provision of a home (usually until child is 18 or 21), lump sums to meet specific needs and maintenance.

Whether a claim under Schedule 1 is worth making will be dependent on the circumstances including the financial resources of the parents and the care arrangements for the child or children.

If you or somebody you know wants to understand their legal position better whether they are in a couple, throuple, cohabiting, thinking about cohabiting, engaged or married they should contact one of our specialist family lawyers today.

If you need advice on this topic, or any other matters concerning divorce or family law, please get in touch with our team at McAlister Family Law.


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