In recent years, the number of people who prefer to live together without getting married or enter into a civil partnership has increased considerably in the UK. However, when it comes to separation is it crucial to understand that the legal rights of these couples are different from those of married couples.

At Andrew & Andrew, we find that it is a good idea to sign a contract with your partner in order to decide how money and property should be divided if you separate. Our experienced solicitors in Portsmouth can help you draft a ‘separation deed’ or ‘cohabitation contract’.

Dispelling the myth of ‘common law marriage’

Quite a few people erroneously believe that if they live together for a number of years, there will be grounds for entering into a legal relationship known as ‘common law marriage’. However, English law does not acknowledge such a relationship.

What about finances?

When it comes to finances and other aspects of everyday life, unmarried couples are recognised as two separate entities by law. This means that in the event of a separation, bank accounts and estate titles will remain in the ownership of whoever’s name they are in. Joint assets will generally be divided equally. However, if you have invested money (i.e. purchase deposit, mortgage payments, money for repairs) in the house of your partner, you cannot claim them back after you separate, unless you can justify these expenses. This can be achieved with the help of our solicitors in Portsmouth.

Improving your legal position as an unmarried couple

You do not need to feel insecure if you are cohabitating with your partner. Following a few simple steps can help protect your financial assets and put less strain on your relationship. Our solicitors in Portsmouth will design a cohabitation agreement to determine the amount of money each partner will pay towards the mortgage, rent, child maintenance and utilities both throughout the relationship, or if the relationship is terminated.

Making a will, and keeping it updated when circumstances change is another great idea to ensure that your partner receives part or all of your estate after your death.