Cohabiting couples are the largest growing family type in the UK, yet they currently have little or no legal protection upon separation.
Our family team speak to many clients who believe that, if they live together as a couple for long enough, or if they have children together, they become ‘common law spouses’ and they will enjoy the same rights on separation as a spouse would on divorce. However, the term ‘common law spouse’ is not a legal term and a cohabiting couple do not obtain rights just because they have lived together for a certain number of years.
Unfortunately, in the event of a breakdown of the cohabiting relationship, there is no law for financial provision for the cohabitees which is similar to that available on the divorce of a married couple.
Often, where there is property involved, the only laws for cohabitees to rely on are outdated and ambiguous land law principles. If there are children involved, a cohabitee may have claims under Schedule 1 of the Children Act but, again, the law on this area is far from clear-cut.
It is therefore vital that if you are considering moving in with a partner, or separating, you obtain legal advice from a family law solicitor. This will ensure that you are aware of the legal implications and you can then make informed decisions to protect your family in the event of a breakdown of the relationship.
We offer an initial free 30-minute consultation where a member of our family team will discuss with you the legalities as relevant to your particular circumstances. This can be done over the telephone, by a video meeting or in the office.
If you would like to discuss your situation, please telephone 01268 565769 or 01277 636426 to book a free consultation with Jane Lodeto or Holly Johnson.