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Home / Legal Services / Family Law / Rights For Unmarried Couples – Cohabitee Law

Rights For Unmarried Couples – Cohabitee Law

Property rights for unmarried couples (formerly known as cohabittees) are very different from those for married couples. People often refer to a “common law” wife or husband. There is a widespread misconception that after a certain period of time a “common law wife/husband” acquires the same rights as an actual wife or civil partner. This is not correct.

There is a fundamental legal difference between couples who live together and couples who marry or are in a civil partnership. This is the case no matter how long the parties have lived together. There can be disputes over who owns what or who contributed how much to a given purchase but, in principle, the answer is always the same: each is entitled to keep their own property. A jointly owned property may have to be sold and the proceeds of sale will be divided according to strict property rights.

This is a very specialist area of law that not all family lawyers are equipped to deal with. We can offer you a complete service in relation to your relationship breakdown, offering you personal and honest advice as to what you can expect to achieve. We will guide you through the process and make sure you are aware of all your options.


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