Unmarried couples

The Stephens Scown family team is independently ranked as the best solicitors for family law in the region.


The number of cohabiting couples has increased dramatically since the 1970s and is expected to continue to rise. 

The Government has predicted that by 2031 over 1 in 4 couples will be living together without being married.  The notion of common law marriage in terms of conferring any legal status or entitlement however remains entirely a myth.

Unmarried couples, those who live together and are not married or are not civil partners are treated very differently in law to a married couple.

If the worst should happen and a relationship breaks down or when one of the parties to the relationship dies, one partner has no automatic entitlement to anything which belonged to the other partner, even if the relationship was a long relationship and even if there are children.

Our specialist cohabitation team offers tailor made legal advice to couples who are living together, who are separating or who wish to simply plan ahead so as to ensure that their partner and their children are financially secure following their death.

Our specialist lawyers frequently provide advice on the following issues:

  • separation
  • cohabitation Agreements
  • separation Agreements
  • establishing an interest in property under the Trust of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA)
  • establishing the value of an interest in jointly owned property under TOLATA
  • selling property to realise a share
  • claiming provision from a partner’s estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
  • ownership of or respective shares in other jointly owned assets
  • financial provision for children
  • contact and residence arrangements for children

It is important to take advice early and to plan ahead.  It is also important to keep arrangements under review so that if circumstances change the legal arrangements that are in place are also changed to reflect the new circumstances.

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