Cohabitation Disputes

If you live together do you have the same legal rights you would have if you were married?

If your relationship breaks down  and you decide to separate,  contrary to popular opinion, from a legal perspective there is no such thing as a common law husband or wife and your rights to spousal maintenance, claims on property and pension differs from married couples, or those in a civil partnership who are separating.

It is always advisable to consider setting out your financial arrangements and intentions in a Cohabitation Agreement at the outset of your relationship.  This can confirm what should happen to your capital assets if you were to separate.

Property

If you have separated and property is involved but you do not have a Cohabitation Agreement, we can advise you on your legal entitlement to property held jointly or held in sole names. The Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA) gives the Courts the powers to make decisions on the ownership of land. We will be able to advise you on your rights and establish:

  • If there is an express declaration by deed.
  • If there was a common intention between the parties, before the property is bought, about the beneficial ownership of the property – a constructive trust.
  • If the financial contributions made to the property result in a beneficial ownership – a resulting trust.

Maintenance

If you are living together and are not married or in a civil partnership, there is no legal obligation for you to provide each other with financial support.

Child Maintenance

The payment of child maintenance is dealt with by agreement or through the Child Maintenance Service.

In some circumstances applications to the court can be made (Schedule 1 Children’s Act 1989), usually to provide a capital lump sum to meet housing needs or to cover your children’s expenses, e.g. for school fees.

If you would like more information on Cohabitation Agreements or your Rights as Cohabitees on Separation please email us at [email protected] or call us on 020 8866 1820.

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