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Unmarried Couples, Legal Claims and Property Disputes

If you are living with a partner, or have decided to separate, it is important that you know your rights so you can protect yourself and your family. In this complex area of law, the family solicitors at Evolve Family Law combine family law legal expertise with a personal approach.

Understanding your circumstances

Unmarried relationships can be complicated. At Evolve Family Law we understand that and take the time to talk to you to learn about your relationship and your family law issue. It is only through listening that a family law solicitor can provide expert legal advice that is tailored to your circumstances.


Expert legal advice  

Unmarried relationships are some of the most legally complex to unravel as the law isn’t as clear as it should be. That’s why it is vital to get the expert legal advice you need to understand what financial and property claims can be made. Claims can be brought if a property is or isn’t jointly owned by a couple. That is why expert legal advice is needed to assess whether there is a potential financial or property claim and to help you reach a resolution.


Why choose the family law solicitors at Evolve Family Law?

Partners and family solicitors , Robin Charrot and Louise Halford lead an experienced team of family law experts who have the experience and expertise to advise on financial and property claims and children law disputes arising from unmarried relationships. At Evolve, our family law solicitors will assess the potential claims and help you either reach an agreement with your ex-partner or represent you in Court proceedings.


Unmarried Couples and Financial and Property Claims– Your Questions Answered


Do married and unmarried couples have the same legal rights?

Married and unmarried couples don’t have the same legal rights. As a rule, a married person has  more claims than someone who isn’t married. A married person, or a person in a civil partnership, can claim spousal maintenance as well as pension sharing and other financial claims. That’s because the law governs how assets and property will be split after a divorce or ending a civil partnership. If you are unmarried your claims are determined in accordance with property rights.


Common law husband and wife claims

Many people assume that if they are living with a partner, they have common law husband or wife rights and claims. That isn’t correct. If you are living with a partner, or you separate from them, any claims are based on property, trust, and land law. That is why it is important to sign a cohabitation agreement or a declaration of trust and to understand your legal rights.


Claims where a property is jointly owned

If a property is jointly owned by two cohabitees a dispute can arise on separation over whether the house should be sold or transferred to one partner and the extent of the equity in the property and how it should be split.


Agreement can be reached through solicitor negotiations or family mediation. If an agreement can’t be reached Court proceedings can be started under the Trust of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (ToLATA).


Claims where a property is owned by one partner

It is often thought by couples that if a property was bought in one partner’s name, the other partner has no property claims. That isn’t necessarily correct as the non-owning partner may have a beneficial interest in the property. If the extent of their beneficial interest and the amount of equity that the non-owner should receive on the sale of the property, or the end of the relationship, can’t be agreed then ToLATA Court proceedings can be commenced.


Children law and cohabiting relationships

If you have children together in a cohabiting relationship and you can’t reach an agreement over the child care and parenting arrangements you may be concerned about parental responsibility and the law on child custody and contact. The law on child custody and contact is the same whether parents married or not. That means either parent can apply for a child arrangement Order or other types of children law Orders, such as specific issue Orders or prohibited steps Orders or relocation or child abduction Orders.


When it comes to the financial aspects of having children in a cohabiting relationship, if you separate  you can apply for child support or you can be asked to pay child support. There is also what is known as a Schedule 1 application where a parent can make a claim for financial provision for the child from the other parent. This can be for child maintenance or for a lump-sum. Housing provision claims can also be made for housing whilst the child is dependent on a parent. The outcome will be dependent on your family circumstances.


Estate planning and cohabiting relationships

If you are living with a partner, it is important that you make a will and a power of attorney as your partner isn’t treated in law as your next of kin. If you separate it is equally important to change your will and any other paperwork such as your power of attorney or insurance or pension nominations.


Get in touch today to see how we can help you.