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Cohabitation Disputes

Contrary to popular belief in regards to cohabiting couples, there is no such thing as ‘Common Law Marriage’ in the law.

According to Government statistics there are 3.3 million cohabiting families in the UK.

For those individuals who choose to live with their partner without getting married or enter into a Civil Partnership, there are many misunderstandings and misconceptions about the status of each party in a cohabiting relationship and about their rights and obligations in relation to each other.

Many cohabiting couples believe that there is such a thing as ‘Common Law Marriage’, when in fact there is not.

As cohabitees, there is no special status afforded by the courts to you and each case turns on its own facts as to the obligations, which you and your partner have to each other.

Usually, it is the property owned between you and your partner that is the main capital asset that you have. The court will apply rules taking into account your intention at the time of the purchase, and the contribution each party has made to the purchase or renovation of the property in deciding the nature and extent of the beneficial interest that you or your partner may have.

At Specters our family law team will need to evaluate the evidence you have available in order to prove your interest; this may be documents, photographs or correspondence alongside witness statements from relatives, business associates or friends who are aware of the situation.

Cohabitation separation

When cohabitees separate, there is no obligation on either party to pay maintenance although there may be a claim made for maintenance on behalf of children of the family. We will advise you promptly of your own rights in relation to the property and what steps you will need to take to substantiate those claims.

If you are concerned about your status and still cohabiting, it is possible for us to draw up a ‘Cohabitation Agreement’, to evidence your intentions going forward. We may advise that property be placed in joint names (if in one party’s sole name), that Wills be made, and other steps be taken to ensure the wellbeing of all parties, including any children, moving forward. In addition, there are disputes that can arise between friends who live together or family members.

Our expert family law team can advise you on the best course of action in all of these circumstances. Contact us today on 0300 303 3629.

To get in touch with the Specters team, submit an enquiry below or call us on 0300 303 3629.

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Unmarried Couples/Cohabitating Couples FAQs

If we separate, am I entitled to anything?

The law gives no automatic rights to unmarried partners in this circumstance. However, in certain circumstances, you may have a claim. This includes:

  • If you have made financial contributions to the purchase of the home;
  • If you have provided money for the improvements to the home;
  • If you have children with your former partner.

It is recommended that you speak with one of our specialist solicitors who can guide you through the process.

My partner will not leave our shared property, what can I do?

This will depend on who owns or rents the property. There are other factors that re relevant such as children and their welfare, as well domestic abuse. There are many factors that help determine whether either of you has a right to stay in the home.

If is recommended that you seek specialist legal advice where neither of you are willing to leave the property.

In the event of domestic abuse you should contact us immediately and we can look to obtain an injunction for you or your children.

My partner has left and stopped paying bills, what can I do?

If the bills are in your name or in joint names, you will be still responsible for paying the bills. It is very difficult to recover contributions by your former partner in the future if they have left the property.

If you do not pay, the utility company will pursue either or both of you for the outstanding amount.

What is a cohabitation agreement, do I need one?

A cohabitation agreement is a legally binding contract that an unmarried couple can enter into. This contract regulates the couples finances and arrangements for living together. It may seem unromantic, but it will save a lot of problems later on should you separate.