It’s a common belief that unmarried couples who live together as man and wife acquire a legal status whereby they become a "common law husband/wife". This is not the case as the term has no legal impact at all.
On separation cohabiting couples do not have the same legal rights or duties to each other as those who are married and the court does not have the same power to distribute property and other assets. This is the case even if they have children together and regardless of the length of time they have lived together.
The law in relation to ownership of the family home or other property is very complicated. Ownership is determined by looking at a number of different laws, including trust law and case law and by considering issues more specific to each particular case, such as contributions made to the purchase price or mortgage, written agreements, legal documents, whether there are children and so on.
On death, if cohabiting partners have not made a Will they could find that their property passes to someone other than their partner regardless of their wishes, or if they do make a Will their partner may have to pay inheritance tax, unlike a married couple or civil partner. It is therefore particularly important for co-habiting couples to make a Will. Click here for more on Wills.
You may believe that you have an interest in a property or asset when, in the eyes of the law you do not, or you may think that you do not have an interest, but in fact you do. We can advise you of your true legal position.
If you want to sell a jointly owned property, but your partner is refusing to sell, we can advise you whether you can force a sale and if necessary can help you make the appropriate application.
Your partner may be trying to force you to leave the family home when you do not want to. We can advise you whether you can stay in the property and help you stop the sale. We can assist you in negotiations with your partner and arrange for you to be represented in court if necessary.
For an appointment to see one of our dedicated solicitors please contact us on 020 8301 4884 or email us to firstname.lastname@example.org