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There is a popular belief that couples who live together become “common law” husband and wife but this is wrong; there is no such legal recognition of their relationship. Given that cohabitation is a popular arrangement for many, it is therefore important to understand what rights you may have, should the relationship break down.

As cohabitation is not legislated for, specifically in the same way as a marriage or a civil partnership, only general laws that relate to property or children might apply should the cohabitees happen to be property owners or joint parents of a child.

Contact a member of the family team on 0161 930 5151, e-mail familyteam@gorvins.com or fill in our online form at the top of this page.

Jointly owned property

Where a home or other property is jointly owned, the entitlement to a specific percentage share of the value of that property will normally be found in the documentation prepared by the Conveyancing Solicitors at time of purchase and will usually be binding on this point.

Sometimes however, there may have been no specific declaration in these Conveyancing documents, or if there has been, a later event or agreement may mean that it has varied each owner’s entitlement to that given percentage.

Generally speaking however, it is a financial contribution to the property that will be key, the needs of a family are irrelevant to the determination of property rights in the Civil Courts dealing with land.

Property owned by one party only

Where a property is owned in the sole name of one party, the determination of the non-owner’s interests are far more complex.  On the face of it, no person other than the registered owner has any entitlement in the property at all.  It is possible however, in certain cases, to infer that despite there being only one legal owner, that there was an intention that the non-owner would also have an interest in the home or more specifically in the financial value of the home.

This area is a complex one and is governed by the area of Trust law where establishing the parties intentions are key.  Again, if negotiations fail to resolve the dispute then an application is available to the Civil Court dealing with land matters.

When children are involved

If there are children of the relationship then it may be possible to use the financial wing of the Children Act to secure a property to live in for their childhood years if there are sufficient resources to make this feasible. Likewise, the same statute can make financial provision for the child’s carer possible.

Where means are modest (insufficient to establish two separate properties for the parties) then the only financial assistance relating to children that will be available, will be child maintenance upon application to the Child Maintenance Service (previously known as the Child Support Agency).

How can Gorvins help?

When you consult one of our family law experts here at Gorvins, we will explain your rights as a cohabiting partner and advise you of the process that will be taken to help you resolve the dispute.

If you need help or have a cohabitation dispute with your partner speak to one of our specialist family solicitors on 0161 930 5151, e-mail familyteam@gorvins.com or fill in our online form at the top of this page.

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    Senior Associate
    Family Law

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    Partner & Head of Family
    Family Law

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    Associate Solicitor
    Family Law

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