Living together (cohabiting) creates no special rights. Contrary to popular belief there is no such thing as a common law spouse.

If a relationship breaks down, even a very long relationship, one partner may find themselves homeless and without any “share” of what they may consider to be family assets.

On divorce or dissolution of civil partnership, Courts have comprehensive powers not only to interpret existing rights to money, property and pensions but to change those rights to meet the needs of the parties and fairness.

For a couple living together, the Court has no powers to adjust those rights and can only look to the law of trusts to interpret whether the agreement and actions of the parties may have created a right to property. Even in this case there can no adjustment of pension rights and no maintenance, except for the children of the relationship.

No one moving in with their partner expects the relationship to break down. Couples who are contemplating living together should consider entering in to a Living Together Agreement as an insurance policy to minimise uncertainty and financial distress should the worst happen.

Exploring and agreeing the terms of a Living Together Agreement are well suited to Mediation or Collaborative Procedure.

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