divorce,co-habitee disputes,LGBT
Tel: 01823 256 494

Family Law & Matrimonial Law Specialists

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Cohabitee Disputes

People often live together these days without going through a formal ceremony of marriage or civil partnership. There is a widely held myth that they have a "common law" marriage because they have lived together for a certain period of time or because they have children together.

In fact, the concept of common law marriage was abolished in England and Wales with the Marriage Act in 1753.

This means that if you live together without being married or entering into a civil partnership, there is no unified code of law that applies as if you were married and are having a divorce or dissolving a civil partnership.

Instead, your legal rights will depend on a lot of different sources of law and can be very complicated.


The Court will have to apply property or trust law to decide who has an interest in the house.

The principles applicable to property disputes were clarified on 9th November 2011 by the Supreme Court in the case of Jones v Kernott:-


You will not on the breakdown of the relationship be entitled to claim maintenance for yourself but if there are children, you may be able to obtain child support through the CSA.

You might also be able to bring a financial claim for your child under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989


If you are not married and you have children, the father will only have parental responsibility if he is registered on the birth certificate. Otherwise, he will need a formal written agreement of the mother or an order of the Court.


If your partner dies without making a Will, you may not be entitled to a share in the Estate. It will all depend on property rights or possible you may have a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.

Civil Partnership

From 1st January 2020 it is possible for couples of opposite (as well as the same sex) to enter into a legally binding civil partnership which will bestow a status and entitlement akin to that of married couples.

Cohabitation Contracts

If you do not wish to marry or enter a civil partnership, it is possible to enter into a contract that will set out what you both want to happen in the event of a relationship breakdown.

How can we help?

The above summary is only very general information. We can provide advice or representation tailored to your own particular circumstances.

“Very helpful, always willing to talk. Service was brilliant. I would like to say a big thank you for helping me” - Mrs C T from Taunton

For a consultation with a Family Law Solicitor call us on
01823 256 494
or make an on-line enquiry and we will give you a call back.

Kevin Shearn Family Law Practice Limited: Registered in England & Wales No. 8853617

A list of Directors is available for inspection at the Registered Office

Authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority No. 611869

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