If you are in a relationship with your partner and are not married, you may be surprised to learn that there is no such thing as a “common law” husband or wife. Contrary to popular belief unmarried couples have very little protection and legal rights under English law.
The term ‘cohabitation’ refers to couples who live together without marrying or entering into a civil partnership. As a cohabiting couple, you have limited and different legal rights and responsibilities in relation to property, finances, and children than a married couple have. No matter how long you have been living together, this does not give either party any automatic rights over the other or the property.
You may have cohabited with someone for 25 years or more, but you may still have fewer rights than a person who has been married for 5 years or less.
Our experienced family solicitors in Leeds will advise you on what your rights are if you are in an “unmarried dispute”. We also offer proactive advice to cohabiting couples around what measures they can proactively put in place to identify and prevent any future difficulties.
We offer a free initial discussion. This means that you can discuss the circumstances surrounding your situation and we will help guide you to the best path to take.
We offer cohabiting couples our “Living Together Agreements”, whereby we advise on and draft an agreement setting out what has been agreed regarding the rights and responsibilities of the couple both during their relationship and in the event that the relationship should break down.
We also advise that cohabitees take financial advice in relation to obtaining suitable life insurance on each other’s lives, to provide some measure of financial security in the event of the death of their cohabitee. This is because many pension schemes do not pay out the widows or widowers pension to a cohabitee in the way they would if the parties had been married. We also advise that insurance may be necessary to pay Inheritance Tax since the exemption a married spouse has in this regard is not available to a cohabitee.
To minimise the uncertainty regarding the legal ownership of the home, it is important that from the outset of the purchase of the property, cohabitees agree as to how their property is to be owned in the event of a relationship breakdown or death. We have property specialists who can help you resolve these considerations.
Please contact one of our family law solicitors in Leeds to get advice on your legal position today.