Unmarried families (including cohabitation disputes)

We understand that the issues you face when your relationship breaks down are the same, irrespective of whether you are married or not. However, the law is very different for those that are not married. 

Despite unmarried cohabiting couples being the fastest growing family dynamic in the country, there are no equivalent laws to help resolve the issues that arise in the way that there are for married couples. 


Cohabitation disputes

There is no such thing as a ‘common law marriage’ and no matter how long you have been together you will be left relying on a combination of complex property, trust and contract laws if your relationship breaks down. We are experts in this complicated area of law and Paul Linsell is one of only a select few solicitors nationwide who holds an accredited specialism via Resolution for his work in this regard. 

We can advise you regarding issues concerning the joint ownership or occupation of a family home, so that you know where you stand and what you can do irrespective of who actually owns the property. We can also guide you in relation to the untangling of the wider financial arrangements between you and your partner, guiding you on what financial claims and obligations exist both between you and your partner and on behalf of any children. 

It is important to note that if you have children then the financial claims may be far wider reaching than is commonly believed. In addition to income claims, which are usually made via the Child Maintenance Service, there will need to be consideration of housing provision and other capital sums, as well as issues such as school fees to consider. The jurisdiction for such claims under Schedule 1 of the Children Act is a complicated, but often vital, area for any unmarried couple who has children to explore. We have expertise in this area and can guide you every step of the way.

Our approach

Finding the best course of action for you and your family

As with many areas of law, it is invariably beneficial to take advice as early as possible if your relationship has broken down and you are not married. There may be immediate actions that you may wish to take to protect your circumstances or indeed actions that would be better avoided. When advising, we will always consider the immediate and longer-term considerations and work with you to find the best course of action for you and your family.

If you have children, you are also likely to need to sort out the arrangements for the children and you can find more information about how we can help in that regard on our Children pages.

If you are currently in a cohabiting relationship or are considering entering into one, we can also advise on how best to protect your interests in the future via a cohabitation agreement.

To find out more about how we can help, please call us on +44 (0)118 959 7711 or email [email protected]

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