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When a relationship between two people who are not married breaks down, it can come as a shock to learn that the term "common law husband or wife" has no legal effect.
Unmarried couples do not enjoy the same rights as married couples on separation and, for example, you have no claim for pensions, maintenance or lump sums.
Many claims instead are based on the ownership of the couple's home. If there is no cohabitation agreement or declaration of trust, the starting point is the legal ownership of the home. If the home is in joint names you may want to claim a greater share of the proceeds because of a contribution you made. If you do not own the property you may still be able to claim a share in it if you agreed that you would have a share, or by a financial contribution you have made such as to its purchase or improvements to it. You may be able to bring an application to court under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act (TOLATA) for an order for the sale of the house when the court can consider these claims.
If you have children you may also be able to bring a claim for housing or other financial support for your children.
Our family law solicitors are on hand to discuss any aspect of marriage and relationships, whether you’re interesting in learning your rights as an unmarried couple, wish to enter into a cohabitation agreement or are contemplating separating from your partner without a separation agreement in place. We are also on hand to discuss your parental rights in the event of a legal separation.
Call our family helpline on 08000 147720, send us an email or text LAW to 67777 to book a free information session at any of our offices. We also offer early morning and late evening appointments across our offices.