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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What 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.
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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.
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.