A FAIRYTALE love story seemed to offer a happy-ever-after ending, but the death of his partner has left a Wick father at his wits’ end.
after their children, but because they were not married, he is living on benefits while a £100,000-plus inheritance, left to Emma by her grandmother, is put in trust until they reach 18.
A Littlehampton Citizens’ Advice Bureau spokeswomen said that while Gary’s case was complex, it was not unique.
“Although the terms common-law wife or husband are frequently used to describe partners who live together, these relationships are not legally recognised.
“If your partner dies without leaving a will, you will not automatically inherit anything.”
Emma and Gary, 48, first met in Croydon, where they were living at the time, when she was 15, and he was 28.
“We really got on, and took a shine to each other, but, for obvious reason, it didn’t go any further.
“We went our separate ways, she with her boyfriend, me with my wife.”
Eleven years later, when they were both single, Gary, of Potters Mead, was introduced to the sister of a close friend. Who happened to be Emma.
“We couldn’t believe it. She had moved to Littlehampton by then, and asked me to join her, so I did.”
The couple lived happily with Emma’s son Bradley, now 15, and their daughter Tiana, now four, for about five years before Emma developed cancer.
Gary said that it all happened so quickly, that they didn’t really know what was happening.
“She was in hospital, and she was being sick.
“She asked me if she was going to die, and I said ‘of course not’.
“That’s the last thing I ever said to her.”
Emma’s death came just six weeks after her grandmother had died, and as well as dealing with his grief, Gary has had to fight for access to the money for the children, but to no avail.
“I know I have to be strong for the kids, and I know that’s what Emma would want me to do,” he said.
Being forced to live on benefits wasn’t helping, he added.
“I have worked all my life, I have never been unemployed for more than a week. I hate having to rely on the state.
“The law just seems crazy to me.
“I just want to be able to give the children the best upbringing I can.”