Many more people are now choosing to live together rather than get married. As a cohabitant you have rights, but these are much more limited than those of a married couple.
One of the main differences is your financial entitlement if you separate. Unlike married couples there's no automatic right to make a claim against your partner when the relationship comes to an end. You can make a claim against your partner after you've separated but these rules are less certain than those for married couples.
You will need to show that you have been disadvantaged, and that your partner has been advantaged by the way that you have run the finances throughout the relationship. This might apply for example if you have been making mortgage payments or paying for home improvements on a property which is owned by your partner. The court has a wide discretion as to whether to award you payment of a sum of money. There are also strict time limits and you must make the claim within one year of the cohabitation ending.
If you have children together then you can still claim child maintenance but you can't claim maintenance for yourself.
The other main difference is what happens if your partner dies. If you were a married couple then you would have automatic rights but as a cohabitant you don't. If your partner left a Will then you can't make a claim on their estate If however they did not leave a Will then you can make a claim, however an application has to be made to the court within six months of their death.
To protect yourself as a cohabitant make sure that you and your partner have agreed what you would like to happen if the cohabitation comes to an end. A cohabitation agreement can be drawn up It can also include things like who is to pay the household bills whilst you are living together. It can contain as much or as little as you like. If you're already living together or are looking to move in with your partner then please get in touch with us to have a no-obligation chat to discuss your situation and how we may be able to help you. You can use our enquiry form or telephone number on our website.
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