It is a commonly held view that couples who live together have the same protection as married couples if they split up. This is not true. If you are unmarried then the law will treat you as two unrelated individuals. This means that your rights to make a claim against a property you may have been living in with your partner will depend on different factors. If the property is owned jointly then you have a usually equal claim. This can differ if there is evidence of an alternative intention at the outset of your cohabitation or an agreement since and you have relied upon it. In order to make such an argument it is crucial to be able to demonstrate this clearly. One way in which you could do so would be to enter into a cohabitation agreement with your partner. If you would like further information about Cohabitation Agreements please do contact us.
If your property is owned by just one of you then a claim can only be made in very specific circumstances by the person who does not own the property. If you have children together then you may in a small set of circumstances be able to remain living in the property until the children are 18. If you have made contributions to the property that you can document then it may be that you will have a claim against the property. In these circumstances you will need specialist legal advice.
If you are living together and one of you dies, if you own the property jointly as beneficial joint tenants i.e. you jointly own the whole property then the house would automatically pass to you if your partner dies. If you are tenants in common, i.e. you own a share of the property each then the share which belongs to your partner will fall into estate to be distributed in accordance with the terms of any Will. If your partner does not make a Will their estate will be distributed to family members but not to you. If the property is in your partner’s name then you won’t automatically receive any part of their estate in the absence of a Will making provision for you.
If this happens then you could make a claim if you have been living together for two years or more at the date of death of if you have been maintained by your partner. If these circumstances apply to you then again you will need specialist legal advice to fully understand your situation.
If you are separated as a married couple and wish to formalise the terms of an agreement reached about your financial situation or the arrangements for any children that you have decided that you would not like there to be a divorce then it may be that you will need a separation agreement. We are able to advise you about separation agreements generally and prepare a separation agreement in the event that you and your spouse decide that it is most appropriate in your circumstances.