Cohabiting Couples Separation Rights | Howells Solicitors
Make a payment

Unmarried Couples

Cohabiting Couples Separation Rights

If you are in an unmarried couple and your relationship breaks down, you may be surprised to find that you don’t have the same rights as people who are married or in a civil partnership. It’s common for couples to choose to live together without getting married. Whilst this is no reflection on the commitment to each other, it does however impact on your legal rights.

We Can Advise on Cohabiting Couples Separation Rights

Unmarried couples are often referred to as living in ‘cohabitation’ or ‘common law spouses’ and there are many misconceptions about their legal rights.

The law treats cohabiting couples very differently from married couples or civil partners. Cohabiting couples’ separation rights are simply not the same, regardless of the length and nature of the relationship. It comes as a surprise to many, but the notion of ‘common law wife or husband’ is just a myth.

We know it can be worrying to contact a Solicitor, but you’ll find our team approachable and easy to talk to. Always remember we are on your side. Our Family Law Solicitors cannot take away the pain, but they can help you rebuild for the future.

How we can help

Steps taken at the beginning can help avoid stressful, costly legal proceedings at the end, whether this be for planning your future together, or to help keep things fair should a relationship breakdown occur.

Our Family Law specialists can support unmarried couples by:

  • Giving clear advice on how best to protect your legal interests from the outset
  • Help write a Cohabitation Agreement or Living Together Agreement – Much a like a pre-nuptial agreement, this allows couples to protect their financial interests and set out the day-to-day financial issues in the relationship
  • Negotiate financial settlements after seperation
  • Lasting Power of Attorney – An important safeguard to enable one partner to make decisions about the finances and/or welfare of the other in the event that they cannot do so for themselves
  • Wills – Without the protection afforded to married couples, a will is essential to ensure your partner is provided for in the event of your death
  • Trusts – A consideration if you want to make special provision for existing children or if you are planning to have children together
  • Inheritance tax planning – Cohabiting couples do not benefit from the special exemption enjoyed by married couples and should plan accordingly

Breakdown of Relationship

If your relationship has broken down and no cohabitation or other legal agreement exists, then we can thoroughly investigate your position and advise you on all key issues. This includes:

  • Property
  • Finances
  • Assets
  • Provision for children, including trusts, maintenance, residence, contact, and Parental Responsibility Orders.

Wherever possible, we try to avoid any confrontation, often supporting you through mediation or collaborative services to help the two parties come to a mutually acceptable agreement. Such an approach can significantly reduce costs and lessen the inevitable stress of a breakup.


What are Cohabiting Couples Entitled To?

Living together without being married or in a civil partnership means you will not have many rights around finances, property, and children. You could consider getting a Cohabitation Agreement in order to protect your interests.

Do Cohabiting Couples Have to Support Each Other Financially?

Cohabiting couples have no legal obligation to support each other financially, either while living together or after separation.

What Happens to Children if an Unmarried Couple Split Up?

It’s important to identify whether you have parental responsibility if you are an unmarried couple who is separating. Unmarried mothers will automatically get parental responsibility for a child from birth, however, fathers or partners may not. Our team of expert solicitors will be able to advise you on this and discuss your options.

Unmarried Couples Free Consultation

Our Family Law team offer a free 30 minute consultation for new clients. We offer flexible appointments that can be arranged around your work schedule.

Family Law Fees

Our Family Law team are transparent with their prices and offer a variety of fixed fees.

Learn More

Family Law Articles

Request a Call back

The Howells Solicitors law team are compassionate, down-to-earth and professional, offering you the best expert advice. Get in touch with solicitors in Sheffield, Rotherham, and Barnsley to see how we can help. Fill in the form or give us a call at:

"*" indicates required fields

The Unmarried Couples team

The Howells Matrimonial team are one of the best in the country and one of the largest in South Yorkshire. It has been consistently highly ranked for family law work in the north, and is overseen by the hugely respected Alyson Siddall.  The team are also Resolution accredited who recognise members that demonstrate excellence in the practice of family law.

Sensitive and compassionate in her client relationships, Alyson Siddal understands that she is not dealing with ‘cases’ but with people, not bound by legal process but in real lives. Furthermore, Alyson has been a key part of Howells Solicitors for over 30 years and offers a wealth of expertise and experience. Alyson and the Matrimonial team are highly ranked in the Legal 500 rankingswith specific feedback on Alyson which is “Alyson Siddall is a very experienced matrimonial lawyer who is personable and approachable in addition to being an excellent solicitor”.

Sharon Lockwood is a highly regarded Family Law and Divorce Solicitor in Rotherham, with a specialism at dealing with complex cases involving children and high value assets. Sharon is very active in the local community of South Yorkshire and receives a high amount of praise from her clients and colleagues and has established herself as one of the most distinguish divorce specialists in the region.

John Clegg is a family specialist and covers all aspects of Matrimonial law including Divorce, civil partnership and cohabitation breakdown, financial matters arising on separation and divorce, pre and post-nuptial agreements and protection from domestic abuse.

Legal 500

The Legal 500 2022 edition ranks Family as a top tier firm in Yorkshire and Humber, saying “Family head Alyson Siddall, matrimonial specialist Sharon Lockwood and children team head Sarah Walker are the key names at Howells Solicitors. Based in Sheffield, Rotherham and Barnsley respectively, they oversea a team that is particularly well  known for high net worth cases with assets ranging from three to six million pounds.

The firm recently expanded its department with the addition of a collaborative law facility. John Clegg is an additional name to note.”

Alyson Siddall

0114 249 6659
Caroline Euinton

0114 249 6643
John Clegg

0114 249 6795
Liam Gray

0114 249 6605
Louise Ellis

01709 364 000
Ramandeep Kaur

0114 249 6703
Sharon Lockwood

01709 364000
Wendy Bailey

01226 805 190
Danielle Mahyar

01226 805 190
Laura Hill

0114 249 6638
Cody Minshall

0114 249 6656
Colin Musgrave

0114 249 6709
Sophie Pearson

01226 668 803