Living together without the formalities of marriage or a civil partnership has become a prevailing trend and there are now more children born to couples who are not in a legal relationship than those who are. But you have fewer rights and protections in the eyes of the law. There is a misconception that living together for two years or more gives unmarried couples the same rights as those who are married or in a civil partnership. 

In such relationships, you and your partner also have fewer obligations to each other if you decide to separate. And the court in England  and Wales lacks a well-defined framework for handling matters involving unmarried couples after a split.

We are experts in solving disputes between unmarried couples; in our Potters Bar, Hertford, and Finchley offices. we are ready to provide you with legal advice. Our team of family law solicitors can be your ally in navigating these tumultuous waters. 

Understanding Disputes Between Unmarried Couples

Disagreements among unmarried couples can encompass various aspects, such as finances, property, and childcare.

Financial Disputes

Financial disagreements are a significant source of legal disputes among unmarried couples. Many partners maintain separate financial lives, leading to conflicts over shared expenses, savings,  debt-sharing, and joint banking. Without the legal protection of marriage or a civil partnership, it is crucial to address these issues proactively.

We can advise you on financial disputes between unmarried couples in our Hertford, Potters Bar and Finchley offices.

Property Disputes

Property disputes between unmarried couples are common, especially when cohabiting. Ownership complexities often emerge, leading to disagreements, particularly when one partner owns the property, or both contribute differently.

Unlike  dissolution proceedings,  the court approaches such cases cautiously, refraining from active intervention and asset division.

In these disputes, it is important to note that under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act (TOLATA), if you jointly own a property with your ex-partner or one of you owns it, a TOLATA claim can be made. TOLATA empowers the court to decide:

  • Property Ownership: TOLATA provides a framework for addressing property ownership in cases involving unmarried couples, considering financial contributions and other relevant factors.
  • Residency Rights: If unmarried couples have shared a property, TOLATA enables the court to determine who can continue living there post-relationship.

Crucially, TOLATA claims can be pursued even if you are not on the property deeds, making it a valuable legal avenue to address property disputes where ownership does not accurately reflect each partner’s contributions.

Unmarried couples with children

If you have children under the age of 18 years you may be able to apply under the Children Act for property to be preserved for them to live in whilst they are under 18 or still in full time education and claim  lump sums to meet any expenditure for them.

You may also be able to apply to the court for additional child support if the other parent is a high earner.

Contact us if you want to know more about property disputes between cohabiting couples and your rights when the relationship breaks down in our Finchley, Hertford and Potters Bar offices.

Childcare Disputes

 When the relationship breaks down and children are involved, disputes between unmarried couples are emotionally charged and legally complex. Issues often revolve around decisions regarding parenting styles, responsibilities, the amount of time the children are to spend with each parent  and future plans.

Why Choose Us

Martin Shepherd Solicitors’ team of legal experts has extensive knowledge and experience in family law, including handling disputes between unmarried couples. Our focused approach provides you with targeted solutions. You can trust that your case will be handled with the utmost professionalism and discretion.