Cohabiting couples are often mistaken about their legal rights.
Many believe there is such a thing as common law marriage giving them the same legal protection as married couples.
Unfortunately for them, this is not true. Cohabiting couples have very few automatic rights and this can cause numerous problems.
For example, if your home is in your ex-partner’s name then you will have no automatic right to stay there if you are asked to leave. Nor will you automatically be entitled to a financial share in the house, even if you helped to pay for it over several years.
If you are cohabiting you should also remember that your partner won’t have to pay maintenance for you if your relationship ends, even if you gave up your job to look after the children while he or she went out to build a lucrative career. They will, however, have to help support any children you have together.
Many couples protect themselves by drawing up living together agreements which state in advance how their assets should be divided if they eventually separate.
This can prevent disputes later if the worst does happen, although many couples find that the process of drawing up an agreement actually strengthens their relationship because both sides feel more secure and settled.
Please contact Claire Rutter in our Family Team if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article.