A recent poll commissioned to mark Cohabitation Awareness week revealed that out of 2,000 adults, 37% wrongly believed that unmarried couples can obtain a ‘common law marriage’ and 27% wrongly believed that if they separated they would have the same rights as a married couple. Whilst it might be seen as unromantic, this blog helps to clarify 4 myths about cohabitation so you can understand your rights as a cohabiting couple better and get back to enjoying your day!
Myth 1: Because you have lived together for so long, you are treated as husband and wife
A common law marriage does not exist in any form. Regardless of the duration of the relationship, the laws applied to cohabiting couples are completely different to those applied to married couples.
Myth 2: If we split up, the main carer of children will get the cohabited home
This should not be assumed. Although a court considers the needs of the children, the main carer may not be able to keep the shared home. Once a child reaches the age of 18 years old, their needs are no longer prioritised and the house will usually be sold in order for the other parent to retain their rights in the house.
Myth 3: Cohabitation agreements are of no assistance
A cohabitation agreement allows both parties’ promises to be recorded in a written agreement. This helps you to know the rights that you and your partner have, and allows the court to know what the parties intended.
Myth 4: The court will consider a fair outcome
Because you are not married, the question is: “who legally owns the assets in dispute?”. The argument of fairness is not of any huge influence. Factors that do come into consideration are whether there was a common intention to share the property and there had been an express conversation stating this, or, whether the property is held jointly in proportion to the amount paid.
Whilst we sincerely hope that you never need to get into this kind of situation (and not on today of all days!), if you do want a free, confidential discussion regarding a co-habitation dispute, take a look at our Cohabitation Dispute
page on our website, or get in touch with Matthew Dowell