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Cohabiting Couples: What You Need To Know

Updated: Apr 15

What is Cohabitation?

Cohabitation is usually a term used to describe two people who are in a relationship with each other however are not married. The legal rights of cohabiting couples is different to those of married couples or civil partners in relation to provisions for Finances, Children and Inheritance rights.

Financial Rights

Unmarried couples do not have the same claims to financial applications as married couples or civil partners. If you own or have lived in a property with your partner and a dispute has arisen about how much each person owns of the property, your beneficial interest in the property (usually the family home) will be determined by the court under the Law of Trusts. You would need to show the court that you are entitled to a proportion of the property because you have legal ownership

What Option is Best for you?

Until 2014, same-sex marriage was not legal therefore civil partnerships were a way for same-sex couples to have their relationships legally recognised and enjoy the same benefits as married couples in terms of parental rights, tax benefits, inheritance, pensions etc…

Civil partnerships may be preferable for those who do not identify with a particular religious faith unlike marriage which is usually referenced to a religious ceremony. The actual civil partnership ceremony itself is much simpler as the parties just sign the civil partnership document and it becomes legally recognised. Married couples are known as ‘Wife’ or ‘Husband’ whereas in a civil partnership the parries are known as ‘Civil Partners’.

Another key difference is that if the relationship comes to an end, the Husband or Wife can obtain a divorce on the following 5 reasons: Adultery (sexual relationship with someone of the opposite sex). Unreasonable behaviour, 2 years separation with consent, 5 years separation and desertion. Civil partners would have to apply to have their relationship dissolved and can only rely on the reasons of Unreasonable behaviour, 2 years separation with consent, 5 years separation and desertion.

You may decide that you do not wish to marry or enter a civil partnership however would like to live with your partner. You can instead consider having a cohabitation agreement which would clarify the basis upon which you are living together. This document, however will not offer you the same legal rights as to a civil partner or married couple but may provide the court assistance if a civil dispute arose.

How can HMG Law Help You?

At HMG Law we have experienced Family Lawyers who can offer you the appropriate guidance and assistance to effectively deal with your relationship matters.

For new clients, we offer an initial fixed fee consultation with one of our family solicitors for a fee of £100 plus VAT.

Please telephone Christina Cree, Alexandra Smith or Irrum Shah at Bicester 01869 252244 or at Oxford on 01865 244661

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