Debunking common cohabitation myths

20 December, 2018

Cohabiting relationships are the fastest growing family type according to the Office of National Statistics.  It is therefore worrying that there are still so many misconceptions about what the legal rights of cohabitees are.  This blog addresses some of those myths.

True or False: My partner and I have lived together for a long time, and therefore have a ‘common law’ marriage.

Answer: False

There is no such thing as a ‘common law’ marriage.  Cohabitees will remain cohabitees for the duration of their relationship unless you and your partner decide to get married.

True or False:  If my partner and I separate we’ll be treated exactly the same as if we were married.

Answer: False

If you and your partner separate and you don’t have any legal agreements in place to protect you such as cohabitation agreements or declarations of trust in relation to property, you are likely to be left with only the assets that are in your sole name and a share of the assets in joint names, if there are any.  There is no legal duty to support each other financially.  This may not be sufficient for you or your partner to meet your everyday basic needs.  

True or False: My partner and I have children and I’ve given up my job to look after them.  If we separate I’ll be compensated for this.

Answer: False

If you aren’t married, you can’t make any claims in your own right for property, maintenance or pension sharing.  You do have claims on behalf of your children however.

Many problems that arise on the breakdown of a relationship can be avoided through careful advance planning.  You and your partner can enter into a formal agreement about how property acquired during the relationship is to be dealt with in the event that it breaks down, which can bring clarity and peace of mind to you both. 

If you would like any information about cohabitation and what steps can be taken to protect you or your family on the breakdown of your relationship lease contact Claire Tollefson on 01892 506191 or