It is widely believed, by almost 60% of the UK population, that unmarried couples who live together have the same protection as married couples or those in civil partnerships. Unfortunately this concept of ‘common law marriage’ is not a reality.
However, whilst you have far less protection under English law compared to married couples, you do have rights and choices including the option to use a “separation agreement for unmarried couples”. Achieving a good outcome for you will depend on understanding where you stand, knowing what your options are and making well informed decisions about what to do and when.
If you aren’t married and are separating from your partner, you may be able to
- make a financial claim for the property you live in
- make a claim for financial support to help care for any children you have together.
A financial claim on your home
You will be able to make a financial claim if you have bought a home with your partner, either jointly or if you have made a contribution to the equity, or paid for improvements. If you make an application to the court, they will consider how much you have contributed financially, and review any agreements, such as a “living together agreement“, that sets out how the property should be divided. It can be very difficult to argue without any formal agreement in place. Without these, we often suggest that the property is valued and agree with your partner and their lawyer the fairest way to split the profits from a sale, which can avoid potentially costly court battles.
If you and your partner have children together, and those children live with you after you separate, then you are entitled to child support from your partner. This will depend on a number of factors, including both your incomes, and how many children you have. Child support can be paid as a lump sum or ongoing instalments. If they don’t make any financial contribution then an application can be made to the Child Maintenance Service or in appropriate circumstances an application can be made to the court.