Living together

More and more heterosexual couples are living together without getting married. The Government is looking at creating a more ‘legal’ footing for cohabitation but as yet, even if a couple live together for years, there is no special protection for this ‘common-law’ position if the relationship ends.

Are co-habitants disadvantaged?

The common-law partner is disadvantaged in a number of ways compared with married couples. The woman can’t claim maintenance for herself although it can be claimed for children. There are fewer rights over the family home unless both parties are joint owners. If this is not the case, she can be evicted. If the home is owned by the man alone, a share can only be claimed in exceptional circumstances

Unless the main breadwinner has made provision in his or her will, the other party will receive nothing under the rules of intestacy and will only win a share if dependency can be proved.

For all these reasons, it is wise to take legal advice on how to structure the arrangements.

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