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Family Law

Cohabitation Solicitors

Jacqueline Major
Bharti Shah
Vanessa Friend
Sarah Harding

Cohabitation is when a couple live together without being married or in a civil partnership. In the event of the relationship breaking down, either party may need advice on their financial and property claims.

Traditionally, marriage has a special status in law and affords married couples more security on the termination of their relationship and gives significant legal protection compared to the unmarried where it is limited.

Our team of specialist family lawyers understand how much housing and financial provision affect your and your family’s quality of life. Therefore, we work to resolve it as soon as possible, putting your needs first.

How the law can protect you and your assets

“Common – law” marriage is not a recognised legal status and, therefore, the law and entitlement is different for an unmarried couple compared to a married couple.

Many couples choose not to marry before making serious commitments, both in terms of finances and to each other. However, if the relationship breaks down or one of them passes away, this can lead to disagreements and complex legal issues. Our specialist Family Law solicitors can help.

Cohabitation claims

When a cohabiting couple breaks up, each person leaves the relationship with ownership of their own property held in their sole name regardless of how long they’ve lived together. However, the difficulty may arise when there is a dispute i.e. if the other party contributed financially to the property, or they claim there was a common intention that the other has a beneficial interest in the shared property.

Is the non-owning party then entitled to a share of the property?

It depends. A beneficial interest in a property can arise by an express written declaration or agreement (express trust) but when neither is present, any beneficial interest has to be worked out and this is a detailed retrospective and forensic exercise.

Claiming maintenance

A cohabitant may be able to make a claim for maintenance which is for “reasonable financial provision” and if the Applicant succeeds, the court may make a number of orders, including interim orders if there’s an immediate need for financial assistance. Cohabiting couples are therefore advised to make wills to prevent this problem. There is a time limit to bring any claim.

"My solicitor has gone above and beyond duty, to do it out of office hours, and for there to be resolution in the best interest of me and my daughter. I highly recommend them.”

Schedule 1 claims

These can arise when there is a disagreement over how children are to be provided for. When the cohabitating couple have a child, any settlement or court order can include the settlement of property for the benefit of a child and also orders for maintenance or lump sums for the child. Orders can also be made against a non-resident parent if he/she is not a resident of the UK. There are many more orders that the court can make in respect of providing for the child or for the benefit of the child.

Inheritance claims

The court has discretionary powers to make provision for a claim out of a deceased person’s estate in certain circumstances. This is because unmarried cohabitants won’t automatically inherit their partner’s assets. For example, if a couple live together without being married and without a will, when one dies and in the absence of children, the net estate of the deceased will go to the deceased’s relatives, leaving out the surviving partner. If there are children, then the net estate will go to them.

Why choose Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors?

Our family team have been representing unmarried couples for over 40 years. Our experienced and knowledgeable team of solicitors will fight on your behalf to get you the best outcome possible. They are passionate about what they do.

The team consistently receives praise from their clients and peers within respected independent legal directories including Legal 500. They are members of Resolution, committed to their Code of Practice which promotes a constructive approach to family issues and consideration of the needs of the whole family.

“[Vanessa's] professionalism, knowledge of law and negotiating skills are exceptional. Vanessa’s attention to detail far outweighs any solicitor I have ever encountered”

If you have an issue, what should you do?

Initial assessment

If you have been unable to deal with a property dispute or financial settlement for the benefit of a child in relation to an unmarried couple, contact our specialist solicitors for a fixed fee initial assessment and to discuss your funding options.

Expert representation

Our experienced Family Law solicitors will assess your case for legal merits. If we feel you have a strong legal case we’ll allocate your matter to the specialist solicitor who best meets your needs.

Positive solution

We will then talk through your options and provide you with the best approach for a successful solution.

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