Cohabitation and Separation

Get advice on your rights from a specialist family lawyer

Unmarried couples often mistakenly believe that once they’ve lived together for a certain length of time, they’ll become ‘common law husband and wife’ and therefore have legal status like a married couple.

It’s not clear why this myth persists, but if you’re currently living with but not married to your partner, or are planning to move in with someone in the near future, taking specialist legal advice from a solicitor could ensure your property rights are legally protected in the event the relationship breaks down.

The ‘common law couple’ myth

There’s no such thing as a common law husband or common law wife in English law. When cohabiting couples separate, their property rights are the same as those of strangers who have lived together. This is also true for same sex couples who have not entered into a civil partnership or marriage. Nobody likes to think about the possibility of relationship breakdown, particularly if things are going well enough to consider living together, but doing so now could help you to avoid costly and complex litigation, and a great deal of upset if the worst should happen. If your relationship has broken down, whether you have a cohabitation agreement or not, you and your ex-partner may go through bitter disputes about property. You may wish to consult our team of expert family law solicitors to discuss your legal position and how you and your ex-partner can fairly divide your assets.

Arrange your free consultation with a family lawyer. Call 0800 130 0458, or complete our contact form and we’ll call you back to arrange an appointment.

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