Cohabitation and living together

An estimated three million unmarried couples cohabit in the UK, yet in contrast to their married counterparts, cohabiting couples still do not benefit from statutory rights when their relationship breaks down.

Any claims have to be determined by reference to complex and esoteric principles of trust and property law, unless there are children, in which case the couple may have limited financial claims on behalf of their dependents. We have considerable experience in this area. Michael Gouriet has been heavily involved in the campaign to introduce legal reform for cohabitees.

Pending reform (which is not high on the political agenda), if you are not getting married but intend to live together, it is a good idea to make a cohabitation agreement before you move in. As with a pre-nup, this process helps you think through potential future scenarios around how to sort things out if the relationship breaks down. This is particularly important if the property in which you live or are about to acquire is intended to be owned in unequal shares – a common situation where one party is making a much greater contribution (sometimes with financial assistance from parents/grandparents).

If the relationship does break down, we will guide you through what can be a complicated process. We advise on disputes over property ownership after separation, as well as financial claims which are often brought by one parent on behalf of children for housing and maintenance. Where necessary we will bring in our wealth planning, trust and property colleagues to help resolve tax issues and to assist in setting up appropriate structures for you and your children.

We work quickly with clients to establish the best means of resolving the dispute and will draw on the skills of our leading mediators, arbitrators and collaborative law specialists to help you avoid having to go to court, if this is best for you.

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Cohabitation - Get informed and get protected

If you are not married or in a civil partnership, your future security could be at risk if your relationship falters.

Michael Gouriet and Joanna Lazarus explain the issues and what you can do to protect yourself.


15 April 2020 - Article

Couples living together in the UK – financial provision for your children

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