Unfortunately, there is little protection under UK law for couples who live together without being married. Although many people believe “common law marriage”, there is actually no such thing and, for this reason, regardless of how long a couple live together, there are no automatic rights for cohabitees on separation. For example, a separated partner cannot claim maintenance or a share of pension. They can, however, in certain circumstances make a claim against the property in which they lived as a couple.
It is therefore imperative to receive strong advice before you start living with your partner, so that options for your protection can be explored in advance. If this was not done at the outset and you now find yourself separated from your partner, getting in touch with our expert family team will allow you to consider the options that remain available to you, including if necessary an application to the court to establish the extent of your interest in the property in which you lived with your ex-partner.
Due to the limited protection available to cohabiting couples, Cohabitation Agreements can be used as a method of setting out exactly what should happen in the event of a separation. Such agreements if entered into properly, are binding contracts and therefore, it is imperative to use an experienced family lawyer to ensure they afford the maximum possible protection.
In the event an unmarried couple have children, a Cohabitation Agreement will not include provisions for them, as to do so would be against public policy. However, our family law team are experienced in helping couples reach agreements for children in such situations and will always encourage parents to negotiate in relation to them.
In the event the matter has to be dealt with in court, our family lawyers will always be sensitive and ensure that the child’s needs are kept as the main focus.