Sheffield Office:
0114 290 9500
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01709 377 399
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Doncaster Office:
01302 590800

Common Law & Living Together

In this day and age, many couples prefer to live together rather than marry. The law relating to unmarried couples differs vastly from those divorcing and this can be an extremely complex.

Here at GWBHarthills our team of lawyers have in excess of 35 years experience collectively.  We are all experienced in dealing with cohabitation issues both at the start of relationships and also the disputes which arise on separation.  Our lawyers are highly specialised in this field and get to grips with the key issues at early stages.

Am I protected by a common law marriage?

It is a common misconception that there is such a thing as common law marriage.  Common-law marriage was actually abolished in 1753. If you have been living together and separate whether or not you have children, you do not have the same rights as a married couple.

My relationship has broken down but I am not married?

Jointly owned property
Where a property is owned jointly by you and your ex-partner, the usual starting point will be that the property is owned equally unless you signed an express agreement when you purchased the property. It usually doesn’t matter what contribution each of you made.
If you are in the process of buying a property with someone contact GWBHarthills and we can advise you on the most sensible way of ensuring that you are protected in future should things go wrong.

Properties owned in one person’s name only
Where the property is owned by only one person in the relationship, the law is extremely complicated. To establish a legal interest in that property you must establish a ‘resulting trust’ arising from financial contributions made to that property such as paying towards the deposit, paying the mortgage or paying for improvements.

In some cases you can argue that there is a ‘constructive trust’ arising from promises made by your ex-partner and relied upon to your detriment. These arguments are unusual and can be very difficult to prove. However, at GWBHarthills we will give you all the information you need to decide whether or not it is worth pursuing any claim.

Claims Under The Children Act 1989
If you have children with your ex-partner you may be able to claim for financial provision under the Children Act. You would need to argue that you do not have sufficient money to re-house yourself and your child (who must be 18 or younger). The court may order that your ex partner provides a property for you and your child to live in until your child becomes an adult or finishes full time education. The property will be owned by your ex-partner and will be theirs when your child leaves home. The Court may also order your ex-partner to pay a lump sum to meet specific needs for your child. Should you have any query please contact GWBHarthills and we will be glad to advise you about these claims.

Child Maintenance
Courts do not usually get involved with child maintenance as it is dealt with through the Child Support Agency (CSA). If you have a query regarding CSA then their website is the best place to start. If you are not married, the Courts cannot order any form of maintenance, lump sum or pension share for you.

At GWBHarthills we are specialist in dealing with the difficulties that arise when relationships break down so if you have any queries whatsoever, please contact us.