Cohabitation does not lead to the same rights as marriage. There is no such thing as a Common Law Wife, and upon separation cohabiting couples face a tangle of complex statutes and case law which can lead to quite unexpected results. For example, there is no right to maintenance between cohabiting couples, even if one has given up career opportunities to care for their children and now has minimal job prospects.
Mrs A was asked to leave the home she had shared with her wealthy partner for 20 years, and we knew that it would be difficult to establish her rights because she was not married, and the house was in the man’s sole name. We were able to establish that she had put years of her professional skill as an interior designer and gardener into improving the capital value of the property and encouraged her to trace any written evidence that he had promised her a home for life.
We issued court proceedings under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 to claim a fair share of the property, and the partner agreed to give her the house to settle all her claims. She had been devastated to discover that she would not automatically be treated as a wife after cohabiting for so long, and without a lawyer she might have ended up homeless.
Miss B lived with the father of her children for over 10 years, and their home was registered in the joint names of herself and her cohabitee. Upon separation, he demanded that the house be sold, and the net proceeds divided equally, in spite of the young age of the children, which would have meant she could not buy another home.
We negotiated with the ex partner on the basis that the children had a right to claim against him for the use of the capital in their home until they finish full time secondary education, and as a result he withdrew his demand that the home be sold immediately.
If you need help with a matter around co-habitation, please do call us at Penny Raby & Co, we are more than happy to help you.