People who live together without marrying presently have either no or very few legal rights against one another in the event of separation.
For instance, there is no claim (beyond child maintenance) for regular payments of income from one partner to the other.
Also, how property is divided upon separation will be determined by strict property laws and will depend on how such property has been legally and beneficially owned during the relationship.
Often, such couples may have lived together under the mis-apprehension that if they separated they would be in some way protected and able to financially claim against their partner by virtue of being a “common law spouse”.
They may think that even though they don’t legally own a property, that by having lived with the property’s owner as his/her common law partner they can pursue and be entitled to a share of the property. Unfortunately this is often not the case. The reality is that common law marriage is nothing more than a myth and has no recognition in law.
Cases where parties have not been married can be complex by their very nature particularly if the separating couple have dependant children when the parent with whom the children resides may be able to make a variety of claims for financial assistance.
Living Together Agreements
As always, prevention is better than cure.
If you are considering living with your partner you may wish to formalise your financial relationship. This can be achieved by entering into a Living Together Agreement.
Such Agreements are becoming increasingly popular as more people than ever choose simply to cohabit rather than marry.
These Agreements can offer financial certainty for both you and your partner going forwards and help alleviate the pain, stress and expense of what could otherwise occur in the event of your relationship failing.
Should you wish to discuss these issues then please contact our family law team for specialist advice on this area of law.