These days it is common for couples to live together and not marry, or live together for a very long period before they marry.
Often children will be born and the couple will live as though they are man and wife and indeed the phrase ‘common law husband/wife’ is used very regularly.
In fact, in law, there is no such thing as a ‘common law husband/wife’; you are either a legal husband/wife or you are not.
Dutton Gregory Cohabitation Solicitors can advise on the legal rights available to an individual who has been in a cohabiting relationship but has separated and may not realise quite how exposed they could be. There will not be the ability to go to the Divorce Court for financial settlements – something readily available to married couples. In cases where the property is held in the name of one person, the other may not have a claim to that property at all no matter how long they have lived there or how much they might have contributed towards the running costs. This is an extremely complex area and requires specialist legal advice.
We have a wealth of experience in this field and will be able to advise on any claims arising out of the breakdown of cohabitation.
By way of example, a couple who have lived together but not married for, let’s say, 20 years will find that neither has any claim upon the other’s pension although that pension may have been built up through the entirety of the cohabitation and may be very valuable.
It is often worth considering the preparation of a Cohabitation Agreement which will regulate what is to happen on separation. Whilst not very romantic it is very practical and can mean a great deal financially. It is, for example, very sensible to record the shares in a property, who has contributed what and who is to contribute towards the general outgoings.
We can advise you in the preparation of such a document.
For further information please contact us via our email contact form by clicking here.