If you are in an unmarried couple, often referred to as cohabitation or common law spouse, 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.
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.
Read MoreWhat are your legal rights as a ‘Common Law Spouse’?
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
- 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: property, finances, assets, and 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 break-up.
Our Family Law team offer a free 30 minute consultation for new clients and we offer flexible appointments that can be arranged around your work schedule.
Our Family Law team are transparent with their prices and offer a variety of fixed fees. These can be found here.
2 steps to contacting Howells:
Call our New Enquiry Team on 0114 249 66 66 or email [email protected] for an initial chat about your situation.
We’ll listen carefully to you, clarify what you’re trying to achieve, and then explain if and how we can help you. We will take some initial information and liaise with a legal professional regarding your case. If it looks like we can help, we will book you in for a consultation with a legal professional.
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 who 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 rankings, with 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 is an ambassador for the Bluebell Wood Children Hospice. Sharon 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.
Howells was highly ranked as a law firm for Family Law by Chambers UK. 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.”
The Legal 500 2018 ranks the Family department highly and states that “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.”