A large number of people still believe that it is possible to gain the benefits of a formal marriage or civil partnership simply by living with their partner.
Unfortunately they are mistaken.
Living with another person in a committed relationship does not mean you will have a ‘common law’ marriage, quite simply because there is no such concept in English and Welsh law.
Where two people are legally married (or in a civil partnership), the family court has extensive powers when deciding what will happen to their finances on separation. Such powers include a sale or a transfer of ownership of the home, monthly financial support from one to the other, and a share of the other’s pension where the other has greater pension provision. (Note this is not an exhaustive list).
Although there are financial claims that can be made where two unmarried people who are living together separate, these are limited to property claims which are often complex, and/or financial support on behalf of their children. The claims would not extend to pension sharing or ongoing maintenance payments for an ex-partner.
As such, a cohabitation agreement between two unmarried people is often an effective solution to the uncertainty of what might happen should the relationship break down.
For more information, please contact our Family team on 0161 969 3131.