Living Together & Relationship Breakdown

Not everyone chooses to get married and whilst living together is very common, the law has not kept pace with the increase in numbers of cohabiting couples.

If you are considering living together with your partner Osprey Solicitors can help you draw up a cohabitation agreement setting out the agreements reached between you and your partner regarding your finances and children if you subsequently separate.

If you are not married but your relationship has broken down, it is important to obtain legal advice given that people still believe in the myth of ‘common law marriage’. The reality is that there are no legal rights for cohabiting couples who separate. You will have different options to married couples to in relation to property and finances.

One of the main concerns when a couple separates is the family home. Who will retain residence or ownership of the home. This is a complicated area of law and it can largely depend on how the home is owned. In some cases it is possible to claim a share of the property even where you are not a legal owner or if it can be proved that you have made a financial contribution to it.

Couples who are not married, or in a Civil Partnership, cannot claim maintenance from their former partner.

Where children are involved, the primary carer may claim maintenance costs from the other party. In most cases, an application for maintenance should be made to the Child Maintenance Service as the Court will only get involved with child maintenance in certain circumstances, for example, if the non-resident parent is living outside the UK.

The resident parent may also be able to apply to the Court for help with the child related costs, or to claim for the transfer of a property to the primary carer until the child reaches 18 years old or has completed full time education.

If your partner dies without making a Will, you will not automatically inherit any part of their estate (as would be the case if you were married or in a Civil Partnership). It is therefore vital for cohabitants to make Wills reflecting their intentions. The same applies to Pensions. Whilst married couples may receive benefits on the death of a spouse, this is unlikely to be the case for un-married couples unless a specific nomination has been made.