Separation of Unmarried Couples Legal Rights

Break up of unmarried couples

Any separation can be difficult. If you are cohabiting but not married, it can seem more confusing about where you stand. It’s thought that 6 out of 10 people mistakenly believe the myth of “common law spouses” and that they are protected in the same way as if they were married, which just isn’t the case.

Some questions you might be asking yourself are:

If you’ve been in a long term relationship and live with your partner but are wanting to separate, what do you do?

Where do you stand financially if you bought a house together, own cars together or have savings that you have both contributed to?

There are a few things that you can put into place that will clearly set out where each party stands in terms of finances, pensions and property. The first is:

Cohabitation agreement – during the course of the relationship

This agreement is ideally entered into before you cohabit during the course of the relationship when everything is going well. This takes the pressure off as both parties are aware of what would happen in the event that the relationship did fail.

Deed of separation upon breakdown of the relationship

This is an agreement which allows for a lot of provisions to be taken into consideration as the relationship fails. It can accommodate for finances, mortgages and outgoings, pensions, property and possessions and who is responsible for or entitled to each of these different assets. However, as it does not involve a court process, the deed has to be agreed.

What happens to children when separating?

What happens to children?

Who will have the rights to see your children if you separate is not as clear cut as in divorce. If your children are biologically both yours then that is different to if one child is your ex partner’s from a previous relationship.

If you separate then the parent who has the biological child(ren) living with them the majority of the time is entitled to receive child support from the other parent. The amount that is expected depends on different factors including the other parent’s income, how many other children they have.

Living Arrangements

Assuming you do not has a cohabitation agreement, you and your ex partner will have to decide whether:

  • one of you stays in your home while the other moves out
  • you both move out and either end your tenancy, or sell your home
  • one of you buys the other out so they own the home
  • you both stay in the home and live separate lives

What you decide to do regarding living arrangements will depend on several factors, what you can afford, what you’re most comfortable with and whether or not you’ve got children. It might also depend on whether you have rights to stay in the home after you separate, such as if your name is on the deeds.

How can I find out more?

Call us on 0800 614 722 to arrange a free initial consultation with one of our legal specialists.