Unmarried Couples

Where a couple decide to take the next step, and move in together, the idea of either party protecting their assets is rarely at the forefront on their mind.  It is important to know, however, that there are means of protecting those assets, irrelevant of the nature.  That can be achieved by a cohabitation agreement, recording the parties’ intentions in the event they separate, and for property, a Deed of Trust, setting out the parties’ respective contributions and interests in a property.

Many people believe that a couple will establish common law rights if they live together for a certain amount of time. In fact, there is no such thing as common law marriage, and cohabitation does not create the same legal ties as marriage. There are only two main legal issues to consider when unmarried couple separates:

  • Shared ownership of property
  • Financial provision for children

We aim to help separating unmarried couples avoid the need for court proceedings, wherever possible.  In the event an agreement can be reached, without court intervention, we can assist with the preparation of a separation agreement.

When people own property together, or cohabit (live together) in a home owned by only one of them, the Court can consider a number of things under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act  (TOLATA)1996:

  • Whether a non-owner is entitled to a share of the equity
  • The specific shares of ownership, whether 50/50 or otherwise
  • Whether the property should be sold

When unmarried parents separate, it is always important to make sure that the children are provided for. The Child Maintenance Service can make an assessment to decide how much maintenance is payable if parents cannot agree the amount. In some cases, a parent with care of a child may also be able to ask the Court to make an Order for financial support for a child under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989.

Please contact any one of our family law solicitors located at our offices in Worcester, Cheltenham, Birmingham, Hereford, Ross-on-Wye or Thames Valley for further advice. We also have a serviced office in London where one of our family lawyers can meet with you.

To view the frequently asked questions click here