Cohabiting Couples

Unmarried Couples Solicitors – 174 Family Law

Nearly a third of adults in England and Wales mistakenly think that couples acquire “common law” rights after living with their partner for a prescribed amount of time or having children together.

The fact of the matter

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Trusting in these non-existent protections can put unmarried partners at a significant disadvantage – especially if the relationship breaks down. Just because you have lived together for say 6 months, 2 years or 20 or more years does not mean you automatically acquire any legal rights where property for example is in the sole name of your “other half” or that you will recover any greater financial contributions you may have made. Unfortunately, there is no such concept of Common Law Husband or Wife. You may well be treated in the eyes of the law as a commercial arrangement with the applicable laws reflecting this. This sits very uncomfortably with the team at 174 Family Law and will always look at ways in which our unmarried couples can protect their interests. This can be done preferable at the start of the relationship when you look to live with each other. Alternatively you can make appropriate planning and effect changes during your relationship or otherwise once your relationship has come to an end. Whether you are moving in together or just planning for the future, it is a good idea to seek legal advice as there are steps you can take to give yourself certainty and avoid potential unfairness.

To speak to one of our expert family lawyers, you can either call us on 0151 8 32 32 53 or fill in our contact form and we will call you back.

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OK, I've decided to separate, how do I protect my assets?

Here's our 10-step guide to secure your best interests post-separation...

1. Contact 174 Family Law

Attend a fixed fee initial consultation with our in-house family law experts

2. Consider your options

One of our lawyers will advise you on the range of options and outcomes unique to you

3. Formally instruct 174 Family Law

We will agree a strategy and proceed with preferred method of dispute resolution

4. Referal to Mediation

Your Mediator will seek the most amicable form of resolution with co-operation from your ex

5. Mediation not an option?

If Mediation wasn't successful, we will now formally engage in the negotiation process

6. Initial legal letter sent to your ex

This will outline our legal position and end goal seeking early resolution

7. Await your exe's response

Subject to their response, we will either look to issue proceedings OR implement agreement

8. Make an application to Court

The Courts will guarantee engagement and a timely conclusion to your dispute

9. Final Order Agreed/Declared

If your ex doesn't agree, a Judge will pass judgement after a contested hearing

10. Implementation of Final Order

This could include sale/transfer of property and distributions of equity/sale proceeds


Below are a list of commonly asked questions from unmarried couples looking to separate
Can I acquire legal rights similar to a married couple?
No you can't acquire legal rights similar to a Married Couple without becoming married or entering into a civil partnership. The concept of "Common Law Husband & Wife", inclusive of all heterosexual and same-sex relationships does not exist in Law and that is why we would strongly urge you to seek legal advice to understand the impact this may have upon any assets you have acquired during your relationship.
What if I don’t want to go through Civil Partnership or Marriage?
Without Civil Partnership or Marriage there are no immediate laws which protect you on the breakdown of your relationship. For this, we would strongly advise you seek legal advice to understand the implications of your contributions be it financial or otherwise and how you can seek to protect the same. This can be by way of a Cohabitation Agreement or ensuring any property you own (Family Home) reflects the financial contributions you have both made.
What is a Cohabitation Agreement?
A Cohabitation Agreement, also known as a Living Together Agreement or Contract, can set out how you and your partner will manage your money matters. You can make a Cohabitation Agreement at any time. This agreement can cover how you’ll share the rent or mortgage and bills and how to deal with any bank accounts, property or assets if you should separate. A Cohabitation Agreement also helps agree things in a fair way, without the emotional pressures which can arise when a relationship breaks down. A Cohabitation Agreement can strengthen your relationship by lessening the worry about what would happen if you do separate, preventing disagreements and avoiding potentially costly Court proceedings.
What is a Separation Agreement?
A separation agreement is a document you make when you want to stop living together as a couple, setting out the arrangements you want to make for things like finances, children and property. You can use one whether you are married or unmarried. If you’re married, you can use a separation agreement to agree the terms of your separation before you finalise arrangements in a divorce. If you’re cohabiting and unmarried, you may also find an agreement like this useful, since common-law partners are not protected by laws in the same way as married couples.
If we're not Married, what happens when my partner dies?
This will depend on whether or not they have made a will making any provision for you or if your assets are held in joint names. However even if your home is in joint names it doesn’t necessarily mean you will inherit the whole of the house. You will therefore appreciate the importance of fully understanding your legal position and plan and prepare for all possible scenarios.
What does it cost to seek advice about my rights?
This will depend upon a number of factors and the work which needs to be done to ensure your rights are protected. However we would recommend an initial meet with one of our Family Law experts who can chat this through with you and advise on the areas of work which are necessary. This initial meet will be a fixed fee and is none committal so you can take this advice and do nothing. Although this is not something we would necessarily advise. We also appreciate it may be difficult to talk to your partner over money matters and often recommend mediation as a great forum to address such issues.
Are 174 Family Law right for me?
Family Disputes are very daunting and stressful. It is important that when you are appointing a Family Lawyer it is someone you feel you can trust, is approachable, someone you feel you can be open and transparent with and comfortable to be able to ask the questions you have no matter how small they may feel to you. We at 174 Family Law are an award winning team with over 100 years combined experience described as an expert hand with a human touch.

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To speak to one of our family law solicitors, you can either call us on 0151 8 32 32 53 or fill in our contact form and we will call you back.