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Our expert team provides advice and guidance on separation options after marriage or living together and will work closely with you to find a suitable solution which protects your interests.

Separation after living together

When an unmarried couple separates after living together, the legal arrangements and rights that apply are not the same and are not as extensive as those which apply to partners separating at the end of a marriage. This is the case even if the relationship mirrors all aspects of a marriage. There is no such legally-recognised state as ‘common law marriage’.

In the same way that there are no legal formalities which have to be followed when partners decide to live together without getting married, cohabiting partners can also go their separate ways with very little in the way of formalities if the relationship breaks down.  Claims are limited to interests in property and co-owned assets, and financial claims for any children of the relationship.

There are some situations where the law is able to step in if the parties are unable to agree.

We have expertise in advising unmarried couples regarding their financial rights and responsibilities in relation to their relationship breakdown and financial obligations towards children and provide tailored options for resolving disagreements.

Where an agreement is reached without the need to involve the court, a separating couple may enter into a separation agreement. This is a document which formally regulates what the parties have agreed, for example in connection with arrangements for separating their finances.

If former cohabitees are unable to agree arrangements relating to any aspect of their separation, we will advise as to the range of options available to resolve any dispute, which may include mediation and the collaborative law process.

Where no agreement can be reached, our team of experts can provide advice, representation and guidance in relation to addressing their claim through the court.  This can include claims relating to property interests under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA 1996) or claims on behalf of children under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1999 (Schedule 1 claims).

Separation after marriage

Sometimes, a married couple may decide to separate but not to go through with a divorce.   This could be for a variety of reasons.

Where this situation arises, it is still usually recommended that the separating couple considers their financial circumstances and for a separation agreement or post-nuptial agreement to be signed at the time, with an agreement that this would be made into a financial order within any future divorce proceedings.

It is important to remember that separated spouses have the same rights that would be available to them if they were to be divorced.

Pippa Allsop
Pippa Allsop
Senior Associate
Sarah Green
Sarah Green
Rhiannon Anderson
Rhiannon Anderson