Cohabitees, no matter how long they have been living together, are not afforded the same rights upon the breakdown of their relationship as those which arise on divorce.
Contrary to popular thought, the law does not recognise “common law” husband or wives, and as a result, there is no automatic provision for a dependant partner for maintenance, or an entitlement to make claims in relation to capital or pensions from the other partner if the relationship breaks down.
As many cohabitees have already discovered, arguing in the Court about what may or may not have been agreed many years before is not likely to persuade the Court to rule in their favour, unless there is clear evidence in support.
If you do not wish to marry your partner, or cannot do so, then to lessen the risk of such arguments taking place you should consider making a cohabitation agreement to record in advance how you would both want your property and assets to be dealt with if ever you were to separate.
As with a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement, such an agreement will enable you to clearly set out the assets that belong to each partner, and agree how these assets should be shared, and what financial support would be provided, to offer certainty and lower legal costs in the event of a relationship breakdown.
Of Marie-Louise Hamilton: "I rate her very highly - she is very much an expert in the field."
Chambers & Partners