Cohabitation & Separation Agreements

When a relationship breaks down, often the most difficult issue is the occupation and ownership of the home. The outcome can be very different depending on whether you are married or cohabiting.


Living together without being married (cohabitation) does not entitle you to the same rights as a married couple.  There is no such thing as a common law marriage.  Cohabitants have relatively few rights that arise out of such relationships.

If you live in a property that is in your partner’s sole name, you have no automatic right to a share.  You would have to establish a right by showing either that you contributed to the purchase of the property, that you and your partner both agreed, or your partner promised, that you would have a share and you acted on that or that you made direct financial contributions.

The strength of your case will depend on the evidence you have.

Property held in joint names

If you live in a property that you hold in joint names with your partner, then your position depends on how the property is held and in what shares. It is essential to discuss these matters and to make provision in your will to ensure your family is protected.

You are not entitled to spousal maintenance from your partner but will still be entitled to child maintenance which is usually dealt with through the Child Support Agency. In certain cases you can make an application to the Court for financial relief in respect of the children.

You can also enter into a cohabitation contract setting out what you both want to happen in the event of your separation.  This agreement is likely to be considered by the Court if the agreement subsequently falls down.

For further information, or to arrange an appointment please contact us on 01274 861096.