Many unmarried couples living together in England and Wales wrongly believe they have the same legal protection as a married couple. There is no such thing as a “common law spouse”. This means if you separate from your partner your only claims are likely to revolve around either claims on behalf of any child for financial support and child maintenance or claims arising from joint ownership of property.
Both these areas overlap considerably and it may be that a claim can be made on both fronts.
The law around joint property ownership is complicated and there have been a number of key decisions over the last 15 years about how jointly held properties are treated. It is possible also for there to be an implied agreement about shared use of a property in the ownership of one partner and that living together and sharing use of that property may give rise to claims under the law of property. This is, however, a complicated area and requires specialist advice which our team at our locations in Clapham, Hammersmith and Islington can provide.
It is also possible for unmarried parents to make claims under the Schedule 1 of the Children Act and those claims can include a one-off claim for housing as well as lump sums to meet a child’s needs. Again, this is a complex area which requires specialist advice and sensitive handling.
We are also able to provide advice on agreements for people who intend to live together and want to regulate the possibility of one or other of these claims being made should the relationship not endure. Such an agreement might include regulating who is the owner of the home that you live in, who owns other assets and how income and outgoings are to be shared as well as any financial arrangements for children.