Relationship Breakdown

Cohabitation Issues

What is Cohabiting?

Cohabiting is when a couple lives together.  So, if you’re living with your partner, and you’re not married or in a civil partnership, you’re a cohabiting couple. Please note that an unmarried couple can never be ‘common law married’ because common law marriage no longer exists in UK law. It was abolished in 1753. Unmarried, cohabiting couples living together in England and Wales do not share the same legal rights as those who are married or in a civil partnership.

For example, unmarried couples cannot claim for spousal maintenance, and they don’t automatically inherit their partner’s estate when they die. When cohabitees separate they can face difficulties:

  • In relation to children.
  • Financial provisions for the children.
  • Redistribution of finances.
  • The redistribution of any assets between the individuals themselves.

Ashmans Solicitors can advise you and help you to resolve these issues. Please lose no time in getting in touch with us.  CALL US ON 0333 009 6275. Alternatively, you can email us at

Clean Break Orders 

What the Law States About Property Rights for Unmarried Couples

If the house was owned by one partner and the other moved in later, the property will still belong to its original owner. Even if the couple have lived in it as a family home for many years. If you are joint owners, then you and your partner have equal rights to stay in the property. If you are the sole owner of the property, then you have a legal right to stay in the home.

However, if your partner is the sole owner, you may have no legal rights to remain in the home if you are asked to leave. If there are children living in the home, their housing needs will need to continue being met. In these circumstances, the Court will only grant you and your children the right to stay in the home if it decides it is in the best interests of the children. Usually this would be for a limited time period, until your youngest child is 18 years old.

Solicitors In Family Law 

What is Beneficial Interest? Cohabiting Couples

A “beneficial interest” in the house is a way of getting a Court to formally recognise contributions you have made towards it. The Court could also recognise an understanding you had with your ex-partner that you would have a share in the property. By having a “beneficial interest” in the property means that you might have:

  • Paid for improvements to the property.
  • Having paid the deposit.
  • paid part of the purchase price.
  • Are paying towards the mortgage repayments.

Spousal Maintenance as an Unmarried Couple

Living together as an unmarried couple does not entitle you to claim for financial maintenance from your ex-partner in the same way that marriage or a civil partnership does. This means that even if you and your partner have lived together for a long while and one of you has been financially dependent on the other throughout this time, neither would be able to claim financial support from the other after separation. When someone dies without making a will, there are ‘intestacy rules’ which decide who benefits from their estate. Unmarried cohabiting couples have no automatic right of inheritance if their partner dies without making a will.

Child Maintenance after Separation

Both parents have a duty to financially support their children. Therefore, whichever parent the child (or children) lives with after separation would be entitled to Child Maintenance payments from the other parent. If you cannot establish any interest in the property, but you have children, then you may be able to apply on the children’s behalf for a share of the property. This application can be made under the Children Act 1989. Orders can be made against your partner. This includes orders to transfer the property from your partner to you – as the parent who is caring for the child/children. 

Transfer of Tenancy 

The property will be held by you for the benefit of the child/children or transferred to the them directly.  This can include a transfer of a tenancy. There are no laws for cohabitees to receive shares of pensions, lump sum payments or maintenance from their former partners, except where the lump sums or maintenance are for the benefit of a child. If you are involved in a dispute with a former partner to whom you were not married, we would encourage you to come and see us for an initial meeting, so that you fully understand your options. 

Your best option would be to draw up a Civil Partnership Agreement 

At Ashmans Solicitors, our team of dedicated, hard-working experts will give your case the attention it needs and deserves. In certain circumstances you may qualify for Legal Aid. Please see our page on Legal Aid. Contact Ashmans Solicitors now for a free, no-obligation enquiry. All enquiries are welcome. Please use the Contact Us form regarding your legal query, being as detailed as possible. To help us answer you quickly, you’ll need to first describe the Family Law issue you’re having. Then tell us what you want to achieve. You may also email or call us to make an appointment.

Related : Declarations of Parentage 

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You can get in touch with us in a number of ways. You can call us on 0333 009 6275, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

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Why Choose Us for your Family Law case?

  • We work with legal aid clients and can assist with obtaining legal aid, if that is appropriate.
  • We offer you a free initial consultation.
  • We are always aware of the relevant laws and regulations relating to children, including patient confidentiality and medical treatment.
  • We have the sensitivity to understand the needs of a child when representing their interests.
  • We demonstrate the ability to represent our clients effectively.
  • We show commitment to representing the interests of clients, especially children.
  • Our experienced family law team will always put you and your child’s best interests first.
  • We have multi-lingual staff in all of our offices, who will give you immediate assistance.
  • You can be assured of competitive prices and a very high success rate.
  • We have an expert team of in-house family law specialists, each with many years of experience representing clients in family courts.
  • We are dedicated to providing the best possible legal advice and services to those going through difficult times.
  • Our understanding and experienced family solicitors can give you professional guidance and support on getting a divorce or a civil partnership dissolution. They’ll also advise on other options, such as legal separation.
  • If you’re being forced into a marriage against your will, we can help you to arrange a Forced Marriage Protection Order.
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