An increasing number of couples are living together first before they marry or enter into a civil partnership, or deciding to living together with no intention of marrying or entering into a civil partnership. With cohabitation on the rise, it is important that you are aware of your rights.
The legal position for unmarried couples is very different from those who are married. There is no current law in England and Wales which recognises the rights of cohabitating couples. The age-old myth of a ‘common-law marriage’ or ‘common-law spouse’ does not exist, regardless of how long you have been living together and whether or not you have children together. The reality is that cohabiting couples are often the victims of injustice at the point of separation or if one partner dies.
It is therefore sensible for unmarried couples to consider entering into a cohabitation agreement to ensure that their financial position is safeguarded. A cohabitation agreement is an effective way of establishing what you want to do should unforeseen events arise. A simple and straightforward cohabitation agreement can save a lot of time, money and distress in later years. If a cohabitation agreement is drafted properly, a judge is likely to uphold it upon separation. It is therefore very important to seek specialist family law advice.
Legal disputes between unmarried couples can be complex. Unmarried couples have no claim against each other’s incomes, capital (cash and investments) or pensions, so often centre around property ownership. They can be complex and costly involving civil law, trusts and property law.
If an agreement cannot be reached, we can advise you on whether you should issue court proceedings or consider alternative dispute resolution options, such as mediation. We will talk you through the pro’s and con’s of all the options.
If you find yourself in this position, our experienced family lawyers can guide you through this difficult time, ensuring that you receive the best possible outcome.