Unmarried couples who are living together do not have the same rights as married couples or couples in a civil partnership. Contrary to popular belief, there is no concept of a 'common law marriage'. The law does not give unmarried couples the same rights upon the breakdown of a relationship as married couples, and the Court does not have the same wide discretion to make financial orders to meet a person’s needs, regardless of how long they have been living together. That’s why our experienced team of lawyers is here to offer you advice on cohabitation and assistance with any challenges you may face.
Before deciding to live together, you may wish to consider entering into an agreement called a 'cohabitation agreement' or a 'living together agreement'. This is an agreement you and your partner can enter into setting out your intentions and agreements as to how financial matters are to be dealt with in the event that the relationship breaks down. Cohabitation agreements are legally binding contracts provided they are drafted and executed properly, which is why it is essential to take legal advice before an agreement is prepared.
Our team of cohabitation specialists are experienced in drafting these agreements and can act for you in drafting and negotiating the document. You might want to consider, for example, how will the house be owned, what might happen to the house if you separate, how will any joint bank accounts and savings be divided, how to protect any personal assets or inheritances, and how you can look after your children’s financial interests.
If you decide to then marry, you can choose to either revise the agreement or allow it to come to an end. An alternative you may also wish to consider is a prenuptial agreement.
The breakdown of a relationship where a couple is not married or part of a registered civil partnership is no less complicated and is sometimes more so in light of the law that is applied. Our team of cohabitation lawyers can advise you about the legal options available to you upon a relationship breakdown, including how any jointly owned property is to be dealt with and how any children are to be provided for in the future.
For further information please contact one of the team.