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Family Law

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4 minutes reading time (831 words)



Are you looking for Family Law Guildford Surrey advice regarding co-habiting? We some have some interesting information for you in this article regarding your factual and perceived rights.

Are you and your partner an unmarried couple who live together? Do you believe you have the same rights, in law, as if you were married? We see many couples who believe that simply living together for a lengthy period gives them rights as ‘common law’ husband or wife. Unfortunately they are wrong!

In English law there is no such thing as a ‘common law’ husband or wife. You are either cohabitees or you are married, there is no in-between in English law. This can come as quite a shock to people who have shared lives for many many years, but now find themselves separating. And the way you are treated in law varies significantly depending under which bracket you come. If you are cohabitees your rights are far less than if you are married.

If you have been married you can potentially make financial claims against your ex partner in the event of a divorce. This could be for things like spousal support, pension claims and any assets you both hold. Each Family Law Guildford case is individual and the outcome would obviously depend on your individual circumstances.

Let’s say as an example you have been together for 20/30 years. It wasn’t important to either of you to be legally married, as you were both quite happy as you were. We will say, for this example, that partner A went out to work, accumulating a pension fund and good income. Partner B initially worked then gave up their career to stay at home to raise the children, who have now grown up and left home. Partner B has no pension or income of their own. The house is in both names, but partner B paid little, if anything into the house due to raising the children. Now they are splitting and partner B finds themselves wishing to claim for a portion of partner A’s pension fund ,plus a claim for spousal support as returning to work to establish a career for themselves may prove difficult due their age. Some questions on this scenario comparing your circumstances unmarried vs married answered below:

Can partner B claim financial support for themselves (spousal support) from partner A, as they gave up their career to raise their children and now either don’t earn at all or earn very little?
Unmarried – unfortunately the answer here is no. It doesn’t matter how long you have been living together, you are not able to claim anything for spousal support from partner A. The fact that you gave up a career and income will have no bearing on this.
Married – yes, you are entitled to claim for spousal support, which will reflect the fact that they gave up an income to raise the children. Each case is treated individually and will obviously depend on your own circumstances.

The house is solely in partner A’s name. Partner B made little or no financial contribution towards it, due to their circumstances (raising family etc) Are they entitled to a share of the property?
Unmarried – it is unlikely that you could claim an interest if you have made no contribution to either the mortgage or the initial deposit. If you have paid other bills, i.e. food, utilities etc it does not automatically give you any legal rights over the property. It is however a complex area and legal advice will need to be sought as each case has different circumstances.
Married – Yes, if it is a family home that you lived in together as a couple then you are entitled to a proportion of its value. The fact it is in partner A’s name solely is irrelevant.

Is partner B entitled to any of partner A’s pension fund?
Unmarried – No, they have no rights to their pension fund at all, irrespective of how long you have been together.
Married – Yes, you have a claim for a portion of their pension fund.

When partner A dies will partner B automatically inherit from them?
Unmarried – no, you have no automatic right of inheritance in the event of their death. Obviously this works the same if partner B were to die first too.
Married – yes, you will automatically have the rights of inheritance, unless they have made a will to the contrary.

We can help you with any Family Law Guildford Surrey questions you may have.  We have a wealth of experience in this area and will be able to help you resolve any issues you are currently experiencing.


Contact our Child Law Solicitors Guildford and Cobham, Surrey and London.

Based in Guildford and Cobham, Surrey and Central  London. If you have a family dispute thats needs resolving, we are here to help and look forward to your call. Please contact us on 01483 826 470



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