Cohabitation Disputes

Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a 'common law' husband or wife, and the rights of couples that have been in a long term, co-habiting relationship are not the same as the rights of married couples or those in a civil partnership. The court does not have any of the same powers to make financial orders according to the needs of the family.

There is no ability to apply for spousal maintenance for example. Disputes where a couple own a property together (joint ownership), or where one party owns the property that both live in together are often complex, and despite a recent Supreme Court decision this area of law is still relatively unclear.

Where children are involved, applications can be made to the court under the Children Act 1989, and in this situation the court does have the power to order more extensive financial provision, including maintenance and school fees orders. Such applications are rare however and only take effect whilst the relevant child is still a minor.

We can advise you about all aspects of the law in relation to co-habitation, help you to negotiate agreements over finances or children, and advise on whether an application to court is advisable.

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