What is the Difference Between Cohabitation and Marriage

Many couples now live together but are not married. Whilst this is a personal choice for each couple there can be significant financial implications if the relationship breaks down.

The term common law wife is a myth, there is no such legal status.

Upon separation, a person who is married has an automatic right to pursue a number of financial claims in relation to property, assets such as pensions and income in the Family Court. They also have other rights such as the right to live in their family home whilst married.

Cohabitation Rights

Cohabiting couples do not have the same rights regardless of how long they have been in the relationship and are not able to pursue the same financial claims as someone who is married.

This can make a cohabitee financially vulnerable and without a right to live in the home they have built over many years if they are not a joint owner or are not adequately protected.

Yet all is not lost. Couples can enter into a cohabitation agreement setting out their agreed rights and responsibilities should the relationship break down.

It is essential to take legal advice at the start of a relationship or when deciding to live together not just when things go wrong.

It is also still possible after separation for a cohabitee to pursue a financial claim in relation to property in certain circumstances.

If they can show a financial contribution this can lead to a financial interest in a property. They may also have relied on an agreement between the parties, such as a promise that they would become an owner in the future.

This is often referred to as the law of trusts and requires specialist legal advice to enter into negotiations and where necessary pursue an application in Court to secure a financial settlement.

Speak to our experienced team today!

If you need advice or assistance in respect of the above then please do not hesitate to contact the specialist family law team here at Browell Smith and Co.

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