Contrary to what many people think, there is no such thing as a Common Law Husband or Wife. Where people live together (cohabit) rather than marrying, they have very limited rights financially in the event of relationship breakdown, even if they have lived together for a number of years.
There is no legal obligation on one party to support the other when a relationship comes to an end. This harsh reality comes as a surprise to many at what is already a time of great worry and upset.
If an unmarried couple owns assets together, may have contributed towards property owned by the other, have joint accounts or dependent children together, it is often possible to establish a financial claim on separation.
The law is far more complicated for unmarried couples who separate than for those who are married. It is therefore imperative that you obtain specialist legal advice about your options which we can provide in a simple way to achieve a resolution without unnecessary distress or legal costs.
A wise precaution when unmarried couples live together would be to enter into a cohabitation agreement with your partner, which sets out how you would split your assets if your relationship breaks down.
When a couple decide to live together, an agreement can be prepared to regulate their financial affairs during the relationship and, to record what should happen in the event of relationship breakdown. This type of contract is known as a cohabitation agreement and is intended to be binding should the relationship break down.
Whilst the same financial claims available to a spouse or civil partner are not available to a cohabitant, an agreement to make payment of a capital sum or a periodic payment during the relationship, for example to meet the expense in running the home, or in the event that the relationship ends, can be included.
An agreement can also be a useful way of recording what it intended with property owned before or during the relationship and, how the parties outgoings during their time together will be paid.
Provided careful steps are taken when preparing the agreement, this type of contract is the best evidence to show what was intended by the parties in the event of a subsequent dispute. It is therefore imperative that you obtain specialist legal advice prior to preparation of such an agreement.