Many couples choose to live together but not marry or enter into a Civil Partnership. Cohabitees do not have the same, or even similar, rights as couples who are married or civil partners. The myth of the “Common Law” husband or wife is not to be believed!

It is important to take legal advice before moving in with or buying a property with your partner. If you are intending to purchase a property you should consider how the property is to be owned so that your interest or contribution is protected (Property Ownership & Property Disputes).

You should also ensure you have a Will to ensure that your financial interest is protected and passes to the beneficiary(ies) of your choice upon your death.

It is sensible to consider entering into a Living Together Agreement to provide for who pays the mortgage or other outgoings during the relationship. The Agreement can also set out who assets and liabilities are to be divided in the event that the relationship breaks down. The Agreement represents a firm indication of your intentions at the time it was entered into and can assist in reducing the stress, acrimony and upset in the event of relationship breakdown. The Agreement can also make it clear that it is not intended that a party will acquire rights in property and so can prevent a claim from being brought.

Where there are children of the relationship, the parent who has day-to-day care of them may be able to bring a claim under Schedule 1 Children Act 1989 to ensure financial needs can be meet whilst the children are dependent. Under this legislation the Court can order that the other parent makes financial provision for a house for the children to live in, a car, necessary equipment and school/nursery fees. Advice should be sought about potential claims whenever a parent has the care of a child(ren) but was not married to the other parent.