There is very little in the way of legal protection for couples who live together without getting married once their relationship breaks down. There is no such thing as a “common law marriage” and those who live together as a family unit often face a lengthy legal challenge following a breakdown of their relationship which is focussed on complex trust and property laws.
It is imperative to take legal advice before living with a partner so that the options for your protection can be explored in advance. Our family lawyers have particular expertise in wealth protection and planning and work closely with colleagues across the firm to protect our clients’ overall financial interests. In addition this is something that should be considered by parents and family members who are providing capital to a child or family member who may be purchasing property with a partner.
In the event that a relationship breaks down without these protections in place, we are able to support you in navigating the complex legal landscape that you face when trying to secure your financial position for the future.
Q: Do unmarried couples have rights?
A: Unmarried couples do not have the same rights as married couples, for example in relation to inheritance after death – they also do not have the same financial responsibility to each other in the event they split up.
Q: What is a common law marriage?
A: A common law marriage is a myth – it is often thought that once a couple has lived together for a certain length of time, and if they have children together, that they are in effect in a “de facto marriage”. However, although many families are choosing not to marry, the law is not aligned with their view of their relationship and the legal rights and responsibilities that each party to a marriage would have do not apply to unmarried couples.