The law treats cohabiting couples very differently to married couples or civil partners. They simply don’t have the same rights, 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.
Couples living together don’t often think about the need to take legal advice but that’s exactly what you should do. 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.
How we can help
For couples living together, we can give clear advice on how best to protect your legal interests from the outset.
- 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
- 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
- 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 Agreement exists, then we can thoroughly investigate your position and advise you on all key issues: property, finances, assets, and provision for children, including trusts, maintenance, residence, contact and Parental Responsibility Orders. Wherever possible, we try to make the process non-adversarial, often using 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 break-up.
- To provide a quality legal service at an affordable price
- To achieve a final result that meets or exceeds a client’s expectations
- To remove any fear, worry or mystery about the legal process
- To allay any fears about legal fees, remaining transparent as regards costs and often working with fixed fees or to an agreed budget
Because we know that it can be hard to find time, where possible we offer flexible appointments to suit you. Our Sheffield office opens until 7.00pm every Wednesday to accommodate late appointments.
All of our offices offer a free 30 minute pre-booked initial appointment on your first visit with us.
The Un-Married Couples team
The Howells team is one of the best in the country. It has been consistently highly ranked for family work in the north, and is overseen by the hugely respected and much admired Alyson Siddall. Alyson has developed a group of many talents but with shared values. Tough and resolute in their legal representation, sensitive and compassionate in their client relationships, the team understand that they’re not dealing with ‘cases’ but with people, not bound up in legal process but in real lives.
Chambers UK 2018
Howells was highly ranked as a law firm for Family Law by Chambers UK 2018. The prestigious guide said Howells is “Increasingly active in dealing with high net worth cases and child abduction cases over the past year. Bolstered by a designated mediation and collaborative law group.”
Legal 500 2018
The Legal 500 2018 ranks the Family department highly and states that Howells is “Howells handles the full spectrum of matrimonial work and children law matters. Alyson Siddall is ‘hugely experienced but always still keen to learn’, and heads the department which benefits from individuals based across Sheffield, Rotherham and Barnsley. Siddall is regularly instructed in complex financial arrangements and has additional expertise in private children matters and collaborative law. Sharon Lockwood is another key name to note for financial work, while Sarah Walker is highlighted for childcare matters.”