Many couples choose to live together without getting married. These relationships may be just as serious, committed and interdependent as any marriage but English law gives cohabitants far less protection than married couples.
Common law husband and wives simply do not exist. When a cohabiting relationship ends, leaving parties in situations as complex and life changing as divorce there may be limited legal protection for the weaker financial party.
Often, the legal status is the only difference between a cohabiting and a married couple. Disputes about children are dealt with by the family courts under the Children Act 1989 and the matters considered by the court are the same whether the parents are married or not.
Financial disputes between married and unmarried couples can look identical but ways in which they are dealt with by the courts and the outcomes are very different.
The law offers little protection to unmarried couples. There is no right to maintenance for an unmarried party and little in the way of legislation to clarify how the parties property rights should be determined. It is still unusual for couples to have a cohabitation agreement setting out what should happen if they separate. Disputes frequently arise and can be very difficult to resolve.
It can be extremely hard to work out who is entitled to the assets including property that may have built up during the relationship. This is a complex area of law that spans both family and civil litigation.
Settling Cohabitation Disputes Definitively and Fairly
Whether the disputes are financial, relate to property ownership, children or some other aspect of a separation, there are legal steps that can be taken to reach a resolution. Mediation may be an option to help couples work out solutions between themselves with the minimum amount of stress and animosity. However, whilst an agreement is the ideal solution, complex cases such as those under the Trusts of Land and Administration of Trusts Act (TOLATA) may need to be resolved by a court.
I have gained extensive experience over 20 years dealing with the property disputes of unmarried couples. I can offer mediation services to both parties or alternatively provide expert legal advice and representation at court where mediation is not an option.
For more information about how I can help you with disputes and issues surrounding the end of a cohabiting relationship, please contact me directly.
For expert advice on cohabitation disputes, please contact me on 0207 993 7777 or Email: email@example.com