Cohabitation Disputes

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Cohabitation Disputes
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When a relationship comes to an end, numerous issues arise, and it can be challenging to navigate the decisions that need to be made. In recent times, many couples have brought assets like properties into relationships without a clear understanding of what happens if the relationship ends.

Questions like “What is a common law partner entitled to?” or “Am I entitled to half the house if we are not married?” are among the most frequent inquiries posed to our family lawyers at DLS Solicitors by cohabiting couples facing separation or difficulties.

The following section is designed to help address your uncertainties if you are separating from an unmarried partner. If you require assistance, contact us at 01625 460281 or complete our quick online form.

What if my common law partner won’t leave our shared property?

If you have not established a formal agreement like a cohabitation agreement, the outcome will largely depend on how the property is owned or rented. If the property is in joint names, it’s likely that you won’t be able to easily compel your partner to leave in the short term. However, if the situation has deteriorated significantly and there is any aggression from your estranged partner, this changes the scenario considerably. Please contact us immediately to explore potential emergency remedies.

Am I entitled to half the house if we’re not married?

Firstly, it’s important to note that there is no legal recognition of a “common law husband” or “common law wife,” and the legal protections for cohabiting couples are not as extensive as those for married couples.

Typically, the most significant asset for many couples is their home. The initial consideration is to determine whose names are on the property deeds – but this is just the starting point. There are certain circumstances where you might be able to claim an interest in your former partner’s home, such as if it’s a family home for your children or if you’ve contributed financially to it. However, this is a complex area of law, and it’s crucial to seek advice specific to your situation.

If the home is owned solely by your former partner, there may be actions you can take to register a potential interest for yourself at the Land Registry and safeguard any rights you might have. If you’re in the process of buying a home together for the first time, seeking advice now about how the property should be owned can help prevent disputes later on. A cohabitation agreement can also clarify who will or will not have an interest in the home’s equity.

What are my rights if my partner leaves, but stops paying the bills?

The first step is to determine whose name is on the utility bills. If your partner has left and removed their name from the bills, you can only pursue them for financial support if you were married. The only other form of maintenance available, irrespective of marital status, is child maintenance. However, child maintenance is calculated based on a national formula and is not related to the amount of household bills.

What about household contents?

If you were not married to each other, the general rule is that each item belongs to the person who paid for it. This can result in disputes over producing lists and receipts for items. However, you may both agree that it would be fair for the person with whom the children live to have primary use of most items.

What about the children if you separate but aren’t married?

The law prioritises the welfare of children when an unmarried couple separates. If there is disagreement about where the children will live and contact arrangements, the court can intervene and make a decision. Ideally, parents should plan and reach an agreement on their own. If they cannot agree, they can apply to the courts for a Child Arrangement Order, which will establish living, care, and contact arrangements for the child.

Couples should also attempt to reach a mutual agreement on how they will financially support their children after separation. If an agreement cannot be reached, they can seek court intervention to make a decision.

From the start to finish we were made to feel welcome every time and we had an appointment with Danielle Shawcross and her team. Whatever points we didn't understand the team did their utmost efforts to help us.
Barry Hadfield

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