If you’re splitting up having lived together without marrying, there could be more legal issues involved than you think.
More and more couples are choosing to live together without getting married. Some believe that their partners have no claim on their property at all, while others cling to the myth of the ‘common-law’ husband or wife, as if cohabitation was the same as marriage. The truth is somewhere in between.
For example, if you buy a property and live in it as a couple, your partner may have rights to it if they’ve contributed to the mortgage. They could have contributed directly, by simply sharing the mortgage bill, or indirectly, by paying for all the other household expenses like bills or shopping.
Your partner may also have rights to the property if they paid for any structural repairs – for example, if they paid for the installation of a new bathroom and/or kitchen.
If you have children under 18, the primary carer can make financial claims against the other parent, under the terms of the Children Act.
However, you can’t make a claim for spousal maintenance or for a share of your partner’s pension if you’re cohabiting. Only married spouses can do that.
This is a very complex area of law. If you are considering moving in with your partner, we can help you create a tailored cohabitation agreement covering arrangements for children, financial arrangements and how assets will be divided if you split up. It’s not legally binding, but it will have a big influence if and when the time comes, particularly if you have both taken independent legal advice before signing the agreement.
If you’re in the process of splitting up, we can advise you on your legal rights and support you through the process of making a claim.
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