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Often people refer to (unmarried) couples who have been living together, and possibly bringing up children together, over a long period of time as 'common law' husbands and wives. There is, in fact, no such legal status. The law refers to this sort of relationship as cohabitation.


When a couple are married or in a civil partnership and the relationship ends, legislation allows courts to deal with the financial arrangements - property and maintenance. Where a couple are living together (cohabiting) and the relationship ends, there is no legal provision for maintenance. When looking at the division of the couple's property, there is no notion of fairness or reasonableness built into the law to reflect the period during which the couple were together.


Carla Hull Solicitors Limited can assist you in resolving disputes with your Partner. We can guide you through the minefield of the legislation and case law in this area and help you to achieve the best possible outcome for your particular circumstances. If matters need to progress through the Court you can rest assured that we will stand in your corner and fully protect your position. However, we will also advise on various options open to you and ensure you are able to choose a way to resolve the dispute which will achieve your individual, desired result.


Disputes usually primarily concern the couple’s home. Sometimes property is jointly owned and the deeds are in both the partners' names. If this is not the case, being awarded a share in any property depends, essentially, on being able to establish ownership, either based on a financial contribution or a common intention. For example, if a woman lives with her partner for say 20 years and brings up their children in his house, she cannot expect any maintenance for herself. Nor will she share in the property if she has not paid for it either directly or, for example, by making a contribution to the mortgage, unless she can prove it was agreed otherwise. It does not matter that the reason she did not contribute financially was that she could not work because she had to be at home with the children. Even if she did make some financial contribution, establishing ownership is notoriously difficult as the law in this area is complex.


Resolution are campaigning for a change in the law relating to cohabitees.  See our News page for an article from Resolution's website in this respect.


Pre-marital agreements

Co-habitation Co-habitation agreements Pre-marital agreements Pre-registration contracts Divorce Children after separation Finances after divorce Dissolution of civil partnerships International family law