A popular myth exists about the concept of the “common law spouse”: many people still believe that if they live with their partner and aren’t married, they are entitled to a share of the assets should the relationship break down. However, unless there is clear evidence of joint ownership then the Family Court has very little power to divide assets where parties are not married.
Claims can still be made for the financial support of children (this is separate to statutory child maintenance) but not for spousal maintenance (i.e. financial support for a former husband or former wife.) Instead, any claims will be determined by reference to a combination of complex trust and property law.
There are proposals for the law to be amended to give greater rights to separating cohabitants but these are yet to be implemented.
How a Cohabitation Agreement Will Protect You
To avoid any uncertainty as to what will happen in the event that the relationship breaks down, you should consider entering into a cohabitation agreement.
A cohabitation agreement involves you and your partner agreeing upon the share each of you should have in any joint assets (property, bank accounts, cars and other items) as well as your liabilities in respect of household bills, credit cards, etc. It can also cover other aspects of your relationship, such as pet ownership.
Once agreed, our family team can then assist you in ensuring that it is a legally binding document that you can both rely on to avoid any future uncertainty.
Call Our Family Law Solicitors for Straightforward Legal Advice
Our expert family law solicitors can advise you on any matters relating to cohabitation. Please contact the team in our Sale or Manchester city centre locations on 0161 969 3131 or email a member of the team.