If you have chosen to live together and not to marry, your rights and obligations will be totally different than a married couple. Where you live with someone it is called a Cohabitation Relationship. Some people believe that if you live with someone for a number of years you become “Common Law Married”. Sadly this is incorrect.
There is no recognized set of laws that regulate the status of cohabiting. If your relationship breaks down there are no specific rules to govern that relationship breakdown. There is also no route to ask the courts to resolve any dispute relating to the breakdown.
There is no legal status of common-law husband and wife. This means that someone in a cohabitation relationship does not automatically gain any rights as a result of being in the relationship.
This, in turn, means that:-
The claims which you may have against your former partner will be either claim as a result of ownership or a property AND/OR financial claims for the children of the relationship.
For the most part, the financial claims by one parent against the other are claims for Child Maintenance. This is a matter for the Child Maintenance service. However, it is possible to make a claim for additional financial assistance from the other parent in limited circumstances. This would be by way of a claim under schedule 1 of the Children Act.
The position with the property where you lived with your cohabitee is most often determined by the Title Deeds.
If the property is registered in joint names, then the two of you will either be Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common. The likelihood is that the property is legally in equal shares and you are each entitled to 50% of the net proceeds of the sale.
You should check this legal position on the title deeds carefully as it is usually conclusive as to the entitlement to the money in the property.
There are certain limited circumstances, where it is possible to claim that you have an interest in the property even though you are not on the title deeds as being an owner or entitled to an interest. This is most notably where you have contributed money to the purchase price or towards improvements or renovation with an intention of gaining interest and in cases where it is intended that you have an interest in the property even though you are not on the title deeds.
These cases regarding disputed interests in jointly owned property are very complicated and it is important that you obtain early legal advice.
If you are buying or selling a property as a result of the relationship breakdown then our conveyancing department will be happy to help you with this.
If you are transferring the legal ownership and title of a property from joint names into one person’s name, then you will need to instruct solicitors to deal with that legal process. Again, our conveyancing department will be happy to help you
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If your relationship has broken down, you should consider making a new Will to ensure that your wishes are settled in the event of anything happening to you. Our Wills and Probate department will be happy to assist you in this respect.
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