Separation - Unmarried Couples

Many people in the UK live together without being married. Unfortunately when these relationships breakdown the legal position for unmarried couples is complicated.

Many people are surprised and dismayed to discover that they have no legal right to share the assets of their former partner regardless of how long they have lived together.  There is no such thing as a ‘common law’ husband or wife and this can leave the financially weaker party unprotected when the relationship ends.

Our team of family lawyers at George Green LLP can advise you on the various legal options available to you to best protect your position in the  event that your relationship breaks down.

If you and your partner are living to together we recommend you seek legal advice on the following:

  • The ownership of property – It is important to know where you stand in terms of your home. If the house you live in is solely owned by your partner it may be difficult for you to claim any share of it if the relationship breaks down. If you own your home jointly with your partner but you have made a greater financial contribution, either at the time of purchase or during your time in the home, you may not recover your additional contributions when the relationship ends.
  • Wealth Protection – Cohabitation agreements and declarations of trust in relation to properties can remove some of the uncertainty that couples face if the relationship breaks down. They are extremely useful in ensuring your position in relation to the family home and any other property is made clear and that each party’s financial contributions are either protected or shared as they intended.
  • Wills – Living with someone does not automatically make you their next of kin. Unless you both make Wills you will not automatically be able to benefit from each other’s estate on death. This can have serious implications if your home is solely owned by your partner. We strongly recommend you both take legal advice and make Wills to ensure your wishes for the future are effective.

    For more information on Wills please contact a member of our Private Client team.

  • Powers of Attorney – Couples who live together do not necessarily have the right to make decisions in relation to their partner’s medical care in the event of a serious illness. We therefore advise that you consider entering into powers of attorney to protect your position should the worst happen.

    For more information, please contact a member of our Private Client team.

  • Children – Unmarried fathers do not automatically acquire parental responsibility for their children unless they are named on the birth certificate. Parental responsibility simply means all the rights, duties, powers, responsibility and authority parents normally have in relation to their children. It includes being consulted in relation to all major decisions in a child’s life such as education, religion, medical treatments and the change of a child’s name. Our family lawyers can advise on parental responsibility either by agreement or through an application to court.