Parties who cohabit instead of marrying have very different rights to married couples. We can provide advice on cohabitation and the law and advice on each party's rights before they start to cohabit including areas such as:
If you find yourself in a cohabitation dispute with an ex-partner who you have been cohabiting with, we can provide advice on all relevant areas as to finance and children.
In English law, the concept of common law marriage or a common law husband/wife does not exist. If you cohabit rather than marry, your rights and the rights of your partner are very different from those of a married couple.
If you have cohabited there is no statutory right to receive or a liability to pay maintenance in respect of a partner. However, in certain circumstances there may be an entitlement to receive or a liability to pay a carer's allowance to the child's primary carer. This is an emerging area of the law. In any event there remains a liability to pay child support. There may also be an obligation to pay school fees and /or a lump sum. (For more information on child support liability, please view our CSA fact sheet on our Children's Issues page.)
Property issues are regulated by the Trusts of Land Act. In recent years, the Courts have interpreted the provisions of this Act in relation to cohabitation often in an inconsistent and unpredictable fashion. Your particular entitlement can often be very fact specific depending upon case law and the Courts' recent decisions at that moment in time. This has become an increasingly complex area and our experience in this field will enable us to consider your case and advise you accordingly.
It is also possible that applications may be made under the Children’s Act to provide housing for a child and the child's carer. Again, this is a rapidly developing area of the law.
If you and your partner are unmarried and have a child, the father will not have parental responsibility unless: The child was registered after 1st December 2003, and the father’s name is on the birth certificate.
Where the father does not have parental responsibility, he can only acquire it by entering into an appropriate agreement with the mother or by obtaining an Order of Court. As well as the issue of parental responsibility, there are likely to be other considerations such as contact and residence. Our section on Children’s Issues gives more details on this subject.
Call Goodwins Family Law on 020 8423 3525 for more information on cohabitation and the law.