Cohabitation Disputes

With more couples choosing to live together without getting married than ever before, cohabitating couples are the fastest growing family type in UK. Unfortunately the law does not reflect this and many people are surprised to find they have very little legal protection if they separate.

Despite the myth about "common law marriage", even if you have lived together for a long time and have children, you are not legally recognised as a couple. This can make things very difficult if you disagree about how to divide assets when you separate, especially if there is no documentation to support your position.

You can read more about financial disputes below and more about resolving disputes about children here.

How can you protect yourself?

A Cohabitation Agreement is a legal contract between you and your partner which clarifies the ownership of shared property and assets, as well as specifying how they will be divided in the event of separation.

Nobody likes to think about the possibility of their relationship ending when they are at the exciting stage of moving in together, but taking this step ensures you are both on the same page and have realistic expectations about the contribution you will be making to your relationship. 

You can enter into, or update, a Cohabitation Agreement at any stage in your relationship, which can be especially important if you have or intend to have children.

What if there is no written agreement in place when you separate?

We are experienced in assisting unmarried clients where a relationship has broken down and there is a disagreement about how the assets should be divided.  If the dispute is in respect of a property then the Courts will apply trust and land law, even if you have been in a lengthy relationship.  In this situation, careful negotiation is required to reach a fair outcome for everyone.

For further advice on cohabitation agreements or disputes, please contact Louise Allard or Sabrina Bailey on 020 7993 2936.

Filed Under: Insight

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