Cohabitation – know your rights

The family law group Resolution has launched its Cohabitation Awareness Week.  The aim is to inform cohabiting couples that there is no such thing as a ‘common law spouse’.  Couples who live together, who are not married or in a civil partnership, have very little legal protection with regard to their rights.

1. What does this mean?  Currently, it is possible to live with someone for decades, have children together, and walk away without taking any responsibilities for a former partner.  If you’ve made financial contributions towards a property but are not on the legal title you may have no claim to that property.

2. Why is this an issue?  There are at least 3.3m cohabiting couples in the UK and it is the fasted growing family type.  Most are unaware that they have no legal rights.

3. What can be done? Whilst a movement is afoot to try to change the law, this is likely to take some time.  Meanwhile, cohabiting couples should be encouraged to seek legal advice and if possible to enter into a Cohabitation Agreement.  These are not legally binding but will carry weight in court should there be a dispute, as long as they are properly drawn up.  When buying property with someone-else consider what proportions you intend to take in the event of a sale and what contributions mean.  Also consider life-insurance and Wills.

For more information contact the Family Law team at Harrison Clark Rickerbys on 01989 562 377 or (covering Monmouth, Abergavenny and Ross-on-Wye).

Harrison Clark Rickerbys has 450 staff and partners based at our six offices, who provide a complete spectrum of legal services to both business and private clients, regionally and nationwide. To contact our teams, click on the links below for our:


Alex Wilson
Associate Solicitor
Direct Dial: +44 (0)1989 561 405
Mobile: +44 (0)7583 015 487