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Leeds Cohabitation Disputes

Financial security for unmarried couples living together

Our expertise

When cohabitees separate the rules governing their situation is not the same as for married couples. The law treats cohabiting couples very differently and many people are surprised to hear that there is no such thing as a “common law” husband or wife.

As the marriage rate in England and Wales continues to fall there has been a corresponding rise in the number of cohabiting couples. Nevertheless, in spite of changing social trends there is presently no legal framework that properly recognises the legal rights or needs of cohabitees on relationship breakdown. This has important implications in relation to financial provision on separation and the powers of the court to make financial orders. The court has much broader powers when dealing with married couples on divorce than it does unmarried cohabitees and this creates something of a two tier system.

Unmarried couples living together usually only have an interest in property if it is in joint names. If there is a dispute about joint property its legal ownership is often clear from the ownership deed. It is possible to make a claim against property which is solely owned by someone else but the law in this area is complex and specialist advice will almost always be needed.

Our highly regarded family lawyers are recognised as leading specialists in their field, with extensive experience acting in cohabitation matters. Freeths family law team can assist unmarried couples who live together before, during or at the end of their cohabitation.

Some clients approach us for advice to prepare cohabitation agreements to regulate their living arrangements. Other clients require more pragmatic support to help unpick their financial arrangements on relationship breakdown where we can help to resolve disputes in this context.

Why choose Freeths?

  • Our nationally renowned family lawyers can advise on all issues relating to cohabitation, relationship breakdown and separation;
  • We will always listen to you and tailor our advice to ensure it is appropriate and realistic based on your particular circumstances;
  • Where suitable, we will explore whether a negotiated agreement can be reached without the need to go to court;
  • You can be assured of robust and effective representation if a court application is required;
  • We will deal with your situation sensitively and focus on what is right for you.

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Contact our family team



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