25/10/2017

People who live together, rather than marrying, often make the mistake of thinking they have the same rights as married couples.

The simple truth is that, even if you have children together, the idea of being common law husband and wife is a myth.

It is a mistaken belief that cohabiting couples have the same rights as those that are married.

For example, if a married couple were to separate, their home and assets would be valued and shared fairly. However, if you are cohabiting, you will not have automatic rights to each other’s property, no matter how long you have lived together.

Similarly, if you move into your partner’s property, you are not entitled to a share in it if you separate, even if you have contributed towards household bills.

You would need to demonstrate that your partner has benefited economically from your contributions and that you have been disadvantaged, which can be difficult to quantify.

Another consideration is what would happen if either you or your partner died without having a will. For married couples, the surviving spouse would generally keep all of the assets, but if you are living together, you would have to apply to the court for financial provision within six months from the grant of probate or application for letters of administration.

It is worth noting that if the deceased was still married to their ex, the rights of the spouse would take priority over those of the cohabiting partner, which means they would inherit your partner’s assets.

If you are moving in with your partner, it’s important to know your legal position and to protect yourselves from potentially complex and costly proceedings. The simplest way to do this is to make a cohabitation agreement, as well as wills.

A cohabitation agreement sets out who owns what and how property, savings and other assets will be split should the relationship break down.

You can enter into a cohabitation agreement even if you are already living together. To ensure it is legally binding, the agreement should be properly drawn up by a family solicitor.

If you would like advice on any family law matter, please contact Sarah Jones on 01782 205000 or email sarah.jones@beswicks.com