Separation Solicitors

Professional, specialist legal advice for couples going through separation

If you are unmarried, but you are separating from your partner, you may need specialist family law advice from one of our legal experts. To make sure you are legally protected in the event of a relationship break down, contact one of our solicitors today.

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Call us: 0800 138 0458

Separation of cohabiting coupleWhat is the difference between divorce and separation of cohabiting couples?

You need only apply for a divorce if you are in a legal marriage. Unlike a marriage or civil partnership, as a cohabiting couple your rights will be the same as those of strangers who have lived together. No matter how long you have cohabited, your assets are not joint unless stated otherwise. You will not have an automatic share in any property or finance.

What about 'common law marriage'?

Many cohabiting couples believe that common law marriage exists if they have lived together for long enough, but this is simply not the case. It does not matter how long you have lived with your partner, if you are not married you do not have the same legal rights. Common law marriage does not exist in UK law. This is why it is important to contact a professional so that you can resolve disputes that you believe you may have a claim in.

Property and the family home

In English law you are entitled to make claims on your home and property if you are married, even if your partner is named as the owner. However, a cohabiting couple does not have the same rights as a married couple. Whoever is named the owner of a property is entitled to the property unless you are both listed as co-owners.

If you are not the sole owner, but still believe that you are entitled to make a claim you will need to prove any financial contributions you made towards the home, or any instances where your partner guaranteed that you would have an interest or share in the house.

In terms of property, it can be a complicated legal area to deal with. Our lawyers can aid you in making a claim in property if you believe that you are entitled to any shares in a property.


If you have children in your relationship when you are not married, it is the mother that will have automatic parental responsibility, meaning that she can make important decisions on behalf of the children. The father must be named on your child’s birth certificate to gain parental responsibility. If this is the case, you will share equal rights when it comes to resolving any matters to do with the child.

Our skilled and accredited family law solicitors and mediators believe that reaching an amicable negotiation is the best solution to a dispute over child arrangements.

Our Family Law Specialists

Clare Peckett, Director & Family Law Solicitor

Clare Peckett

Director & Solicitor

Allan Layfield, Director & Family Law Solicitor

Allan Layfield

Director, Solicitor & Collaborative Lawyer

Toby Netting, Family Law Solicitor, Switalskis

Toby Netting

Solicitor & Collaborative Lawyer

Alison Kitchman, Family Law Solicitor

Alison Kitchman

Solicitor & Collaborative Lawyer

Andrew Baines, Family Mediator

Andrew Baines

Solicitor & Family Mediator

Louise Ryder Family Solicitor Switalskis

Louise Ryder


Chris Preston, Consultant Family Law Solicitor, Switalskis

Chris Preston

Consultant Solicitor

Judith Glynn, Consultant Family Solicitor - Switalskis

Judith Glynn

Consultant Solicitor

Sharron Hardman Solicitor - Family Law - Switalskis

Sharron Hardman

Solicitor & Collaborative Lawyer

Samantha Downes


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Catherine Cain


Maariyah Badat

Trainee Solicitor

What happens if we have debts?

You and your ex-partner are both responsible for your own debts that are in your name. The only reason that you may have disputes over debt is if you have opened a joint account together and are in overdraft, or if you have taken out a mortgage or loan together. In this case, you should try to come to an agreement as soon as you can so that your partner cannot make the debt - which you are jointly responsible for - any worse.

Cohabitation Agreements

If you are considering living with your partner, or if you have already moved in together, you may wish to make a Cohabitation Agreement to ensure that you are protected to the fullest extent regarding your assets and financial arrangements. In the event that your relationship should irretrievably break down it can help to prevent disputes. To find out more information about this please visit our Cohabitation Agreements page.

How can Switalskis help me?

Switalskis’ Family Law experts can help you in the breakdown of a relationship. As you may have different rights and circumstances in a cohabiting couple separation, it is best to seek advice and guidance to make sure that you are protected and receive what you are entitled to by fairly dividing your assets.

We offer a personal service and will work closely with you to ensure that your needs are met. In cases including children, we will always make sure that their interests are put first and that their wellbeing is protected.

To speak to one of our lawyers today contact us through the website or call 0800 138 0458 and we will call you back.

What our clients say

"Thank you for all the valuable advice you gave me through my most difficult time and for helping me to achieve some closure."

Family Law Client

"I was very happy with the service provided and the way my case was handled."

Family Law Client

"They made sure I knew what the next steps were at each part of the process and made sure I was fully informed every step of the way. They were also very proactive in following up paperwork with the other solicitors on my behalf."

Family Law Client