There is a common misconception that if parties have cohabited for a significant number of years then they are “common law husband or wife”.
Couples may have purchased property together, had children together or contributed towards the purchase or renovation of a property in the other’s sole name.
The reality is that there is no such thing as a common law spouse – you are either married or you aren’t – and the law is very different upon separation depending upon whether you are married or not. If a couple who are not married separate, even if that separation is after ten or twenty years and there are children, the court has limited scope for involvement unlike in a divorce where there is a wide discretion.
The court can deal with property under property law but unless that property is held in joint names, it is by no means certain that the party whose name is not on the ownership documents will recover any share of the value of the former home.
There may be issues of contribution to ascertain and whether one party relied upon anything said or done by the other party often making these types of applications complex.
There are also applications under the Children Act for financial provision for children that can be made if there are children of the relationship. We can discuss these options with you.
Our family department has over 50 years experience of family law, advising and supporting clients and their families from all over England and Wales.
To find out how we can help you can:
If you are based outside of the Manchester area, we can correspond with you by email and we can arrange interviews by phone, Skype, Facetime or Zoom.