Category: Cohabitation

Your Child Arrangements during Coronavirus

During this uncertain time as family lawyers we are receiving a significant number of enquiries from separated parents about how and whether they should continue with arrangements in light of the spread of coronavirus, school closures and further government advice.

It is very important that we continue to follow government guidelines. If you are not aware of the current Government Advice we have covered this below:

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, appeared on both Good Morning Britain and BBC Breakfast News on 24 March 2020. In his initial interview he indicated that all children should remain with the parent in whose care they currently are. In his second interview he both apologised for his lack of clarity in the earlier interview and helpfully clarified the government’s advice which is that all children of separated parents under the age of 18 should continue to see both of their parents.

The clear government advice is welcome news for separated parents and means in general that:

  • If there is a Court Order in place that defines the time children spend with each of their parents this should continue; and
  • If there is no Court Order in place then the normal arrangements should continue.

Everyone at Lund Bennet appreciate that each case will be very different and every family will have their own particular set of circumstance they have to contend with. We would encourage all separated parents/families to discuss matters openly and honestly and agree with a plan which works best for the children. If unfortunately, you’re a parent who is being refused time with their child and are unsure if this is reasonable, or if you’re a parent who doesn’t know whether to allow their child to visit their other parent’s home, you may need some legal advice at this time. We can offer telephone appointments with our experienced solicitors who can provide practical and sensible guidance at this difficult time. Contact us to book a telephone consultation today.

Unmarried cohabiting couples are the UK’s fastest growing family type

The typical family in the UK is changing, as more opposite-sex couples than ever are choosing to live together without getting married.

According to research by the ONS, whilst married couple families remain the commonest family type, between 2008 and 2018 the number of cohabiting couples grew faster than the number of married couples.

The figures show that the overall number of families in the UK has increased by 8% over the last decade, with the number of cohabiting couples increasing by 25.8%.

Meanwhile, since same-sex marriage was introduced in 2014, the number of same-sex couples getting married has steadily increased each year. Same-sex couple families have grown by 50% since 2015 and the number of same-sex married couples has doubled since 2017.

The data also shows that there are now more people than ever before living alone in the UK.

Legal protection for cohabiting couples

With 3.3 million couples now cohabiting in the UK, there have been calls to review cohabitation laws to keep up with the nation’s changing lifestyle trends.
Currently, cohabiting couples do not have the same legal protection as married couples. With over half of cohabiting couples owning property and financial assets together, it’s important that they seek legal protection.

One way that those cohabiting can gain some financial protection and security is by creating a cohabitation agreement.

A cohabitation agreement can be used to agree details about financial commitments and assets both whilst living together and in the event of a separation. The kinds of things that may be included in an agreement include who owns what assets, who is to pay what towards bills and living expenses, and in the event of a separation, where children would live, how property would be divided, and how debt would be split.

For help and advice with a cohabitation dispute or creating a cohabitation agreement, get in touch with our team of specialists here at Lund Bennett Law by giving us a call on 0161 927 3118.

What is included in a cohabitation agreement?

Cohabiting couples do not have the same legal protection as married couples, but a cohabitation agreement can offer some protection.

A cohabitation agreement allows couples living together to agree their financial commitments and obligations to each other, to avoid disputes later down the line.

With more people than ever now choosing to cohabit, the lack of legal protection for cohabiting couples can make breakups fraught and messy.

To avoid stressful disputes, many cohabiting couples are now choosing to create a legal cohabitation agreement, to iron out the details about what would happen in the event of a relationship breakdown.

A cohabitation agreement gives couples the opportunity to discuss who owns what, how property and assets should be split, and how children will be supported, should they decide to part ways in the future.

Creating an agreement in advance usually results in fair and realistic decisions being made, which isn’t always the case in the midst of a relationship breakdown.

are a few things that you should sit down and discuss in detail before creating a cohabitation agreement.

Whilst you’re cohabiting:

  • Who owns what?
  • How will bills and living expenses be covered?

In the event of a separation:

  • How will your possessions and assets be divided?
  • How will property be divided?
  • Where would children live?
  • How will children be financially supported?
  • How would money in joint accounts be split?
  • How would overdrafts and debt be split?
  • Who owns each vehicle?

For a cohabitation to be legally binding, you will each need to be able to confirm that you have received independent legal advice and entered into the agreement voluntarily.

For help and advice with a cohabitation dispute or creating an agreement, get in touch with our team of specialists here at Lund Bennett Law by giving us a call on 0161 927 3118.

Woman collapses in court after judge rules that she did not have a claim for a half-share in her ex-boyfriend’s business

The harsh reality of a cohabitation separation hit Miss Turner hard as Judge Alan Johns QC ruled that her ex-boyfriend, Mr. Durant, had not promised to marry her and she did not have a claim for a half-share of his business. After judgment was delivered, Miss Turner fainted onto the desk in front of her and the case was adjourned while she received medical attention.

Mr. Durant and Miss Turner were in a relationship from the late 1980s to 2014 and had a child together however they never married.

Miss Turner claimed that Mr. Durant’s business was worth ‘millions’ and that he promised her a 50% share in the business. Miss Turner said that she put £200,000 life savings into buying their home and asked Mr. Durant to match that contribution however Mr. Durant said that he needed cash to grow his business and instead promised her a half share in his company.

The fact that Miss Turner could provide no documentary evidence in support of her claim meant that the judge decided that it was ‘inherently improbable’ that Mr. Durant ever made such a promise. The Judge also added that there was no imbalance between Miss Turner and Mr. Durant as he would be paying the £250,000 mortgage on their home.

This case highlights more than ever the importance of raising public awareness of the legal issues cohabiting couples face upon separation.

There is a widespread belief that a ‘common law’ marriage exists however the reality is that cohabiting couples are not afforded the same legal rights as their married counterparts when it comes to property and business ownership.

All of these uncertainties can be avoided by having a Cohabitation Agreement in place so that both you and your partner are clear about who walks away with what in the event of separation. To speak with one of our specialist Family Law solicitors about a Cohabitation Agreement please call 0161 927 3118.

How To Avoid A Costly Cohabitation Breakup

While we see plenty of celebrity couples opting to cohabit rather than commit to marriages, the chances are that at least some of these relationships will be bound by a co-habitation agreement. This allows couples to work out who is entitled to what if a relationship breaks down.

The number of co-habiting couples in the UK continues to rise fast. The number has almost tripled since 1996 from 1.5 million to 3.3 million and now represents 17.5% of all family arrangements in the UK.

Unfortunately, a significant proportion of co-habiting couples are unaware of their legal rights with 26% mistakenly believing that they have ‘common law marriage’ rights equal to those of married couples. This certainly isn’t the case and if a relationship breaks down the actual status of relationships will be brought into sharp focus.

If for example a co-habiting couple own their home as joint tenants, then regardless of who invested the most into the property, it would be split 50/50 following a breakup of the relationship. 50% of a property would also be automatically be passed on to the other partner upon death.

Awareness of legal rights when it comes to children in the family is also poor with 73% of respondents in one survey unaware of what support they would be entitled to when being left to bring up children.

The mother and father of the children are required to contribute to the cost of bringing up children until they leave school or go on to attend University.

All of these uncertainties can be avoided by putting together a co-habitation agreement which removes many of the uncertainties that exist for couples who choose not to marry.

Is Law Failing To Keep Up With Cohabiting Couples?

Family Law organisation, Resolution, claim that the law is failing to give cohabiting couples the same protection as married couples.

With cohabiting couples now the fastest growing family type in the past two decades according to Office for National Statistics figures, little has been done to protect couples who separate. When married couples separate there are well established laws to fall back on which can help couples move on while cohabiting couples are left without any rights.

3.3 million families in the UK are now classed as cohabiting couple families which is double what it was twenty years ago. This indicates a real shift in society’s attitudes to marriage. It is becoming increasingly clear that a significant proportion of the population are deciding that cohabitation offers a more flexible arrangement. However, when problems arise as they often do in relationships, it becomes all too easy to leave the relationship.

Many cohabiting couples mistakenly believe that they will be entitled to the same treatment as married couples when there are disputes only to find that there isn’t. The myth of the ‘common law marriage’ often catches many couples out when they decide to explore their legal options.

Rising Cohabitation Increases Need For Legal Protection

According to the latest statistics released by ONS, the number of cohabiting couples has risen rapidly in the UK. This has raised concerns about the lack of legal protection for couples if a partner decides they want to separate.

The rise in cohabitation puts pressure on the government to act and provide some kind of safety net for families who don’t enjoy the same protection as married couples. The latter still makes up the majority of families in the UK even though cohabiting couples currently account for 17% overall.

The number of couples cohabiting reached 3.2 million in 2015. This raises a number of issues for a society that has placed great importance on marriage as a means to bond families together.

Unlike married couples, a partner living as part of a cohabiting couple can simply get up and walk away without having to take any responsibility for the welfare of a former partner.

This can have a particularly bad effect on any children the couple may have as one partner can be left struggling to bring up children alone. If the current trend continues, then new laws will need to be introduced to keep pace with how society is developing.

The Cohabitation Rights Bill goes to Committee stage

On 15th December, the Cohabitation Rights Bill had its second reading in the House of Lords and passed through to Committee stage.

Cohabitation is becoming increasingly common and more couples are living together than ever before. It has been estimated that there are currently 2,859,000 cohabiting households in Britain and many organisations such as Resolution have been campaigning for cohabitation law reform for some time. Currently cohabiting couples have little protection when they separate. Many couples assume that they are protected on separation and have similar rights as married couples; this is unfortunately not the case.

If passed, the bill would give cohabiting couples better legal protection. Amongst the provisions, cohabiting couples would gain the right to apply for a financial settlement within 2 years of a relationship ending. Whether the Bill will be passed into law remains to be seen, however the passing of the Bill to the Committee stage is a welcome step in the right direction for many family lawyers who often find advising cohabitants on the breakdown of their relationship difficult due to the wide interpretation of case law.

Until the bill is passed cohabitants should seek legal advice about their position during the relationship, when important decisions are being made such as the purchase of a property. A Cohabitation Agreement is a way to avoid uncertainty and sets out clearly who owns what and what would happen if the relationship were to end.

Our specialist lawyers in our Altrincham or Manchester offices can talk you through your options and help you to decide which option would be the right decision for your situation. Please contact us on 0161 927 3118 for a free 20 minute consultation.

Lib Dems vote for rights of Cohabitants

The annual Liberal Democrat conference saw a motion passed which calls for “the implementation without delay of proposals giving cohabiting couples fair and reasonable redress upon relationship breakdown and upon intestacy, based upon the proposals made in the Law Commission’s 2007 and 2011 reports”

Current laws relating to the disputes of cohabiting couples when a relationship breaks down are unclear and complicated. This becomes particularly complex when there are children involved.

A review of the laws relating to cohabitants would hopefully see rights similar to that of married couples and provide much fairer guidelines for families upon separation.