Cohabitation is when a man and woman, who are not legally married to each other, are living together as husband and wife.
There is no law governing this relationship. “Common law husband or wife” is just a social saying and has no legal validity.
we are particularly concerned that there are no laws governing this type of relationship. We take particular care when advising cohabitees and ensure that any advice covers maintenance, property and children.
There is no legal obligation for one party to provide maintenance for the other. This does not affect child maintenance. Top
Property can be acquired as Tenants in Common or Joint Tenants. As tenants in common, the parties’ share in the property will have been established from the outset. If the property was purchased as Joint Tenants or if the property is in one name only then the parties’ respective contributions to the purchase price, payment for significant building work or mortgage payments will need to be ascertained.
Contributions, by the non owning party, by way of paying bills or food shopping will not establish an interest.
The sale of a family home can be postponed if there are dependant children under the age of 19 and in full time education. The non owning party can only remain in the home if they are responsible for the children.
A cohabitee does not have automatic rights to a deceased partner’s pension or their estate. Specialist advice should be taken to safeguard the cohabitee’s future. Top
Financial assistance for children is sought through either the Child Support Agency or through The Children Act 1989 Schedule 1.
In a cohabitation situation only the mother has automatic Parental Responsibility for the child. Since December 2003 a father has automatic Parental Responsibility if his name is registered on the birth certificate at the time of registration. A father can acquire Parental Responsibility by:
- Entering into a written agreement with the mother
- Making an application to court
- Marrying the mother of the child
A father can apply for Contact, Residence, Specific Issues and Prohibited Steps orders as he is deemed a “parent” under The Children Act. Top