Contrary to popular belief, there is no legal recognition of the concept of ‘common law wife or husband’. If you live with your partner and are unmarried, you have no automatic rights to each other’s assets or to maintenance, (although you may be entitled to child maintenance or other financial claims on behalf of a child).
That said, while you’re cohabiting you may acquire property rights that need to be dealt with if you separate. The basis on which a property is owned (solely or jointly) can often determine how it’s divided upon separation. But financial claims can arise if you both make separate financial contributions to a property, either as lump sum payments or over a period of time.
In that situation, it’s necessary to undertake a thorough assessment of exactly what contributions each of you has made and what you intended and believed the financial consequences of those contributions to be.
If you and your partner disagree over property rights or, if it’s a jointly owned property, whether, when and how it should be sold, our expert family law solicitors in Chester and Shrewsbury can advise you and try to negotiate a resolution without going to court.
If appropriate, we can help you agree and draw up a separation agreement. If that’s not possible, either of you can make an application to the court under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 for a judge to decide the outcome. We can help you with this application, too.
This is a complex area of law where there is still no definitive law in England and Wales governing the breakdown of the relationship of cohabiting couples. So if you’re considering whether or not to cohabit, it’s a good idea to get take legal advice first.
Our family law specialists can draft a cohabitation agreement to clarify financial matters from the outset, both during the relationship and if it breaks down. This can help avoid complications and disputes further down the line.
Partner & Head of Family Law
Family Law Partner