Legal protection when you
no longer want to live together


Contrary to popular belief, there really is no such thing as a “common law” husband or wife. Unless you marry or enter into a civil partnership, even if you have been living together for many years, you have no right to claim financial support or maintenance from your partner if you separate.


So what rights do you have?

There are currently only a very limited number of options for financial relief open to you and these are:


Child maintenance

If you have children together and the children reside mostly with you, your partner may be liable to pay some child maintenance to you if his or her financial circumstances justify it. However, you would be unlikely to receive any child maintenance if your partner receives State benefits.

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) will usually deal with any dispute over child maintenance. If one of you lives abroad or earns over a certain amount, the Court may be able to order maintenance.


If you jointly own a property and cannot agree whether it should be sold or how to divide the proceeds, you can ask the Court to decide what proportion of the property belongs to you and to make an order for the property to be sold and the proceeds distributed.

If you both live in a property which your partner owns, you are unlikely to be entitled to a share of the property simply because you have shared bills.

However, if your partner agreed that you should have a share or you have made capital contributions, perhaps towards a deposit, the mortgage or substantial home improvements, you may have acquired an interest in the property and can apply to the Court to make an order.

This area of the law is complicated and entails detailed consideration of whether any form of agreement or understanding between you and your partner has created a Trust.

A home for your children

If you need accommodation for your children after you separate, you can apply, on their behalf, for a property to be transferred to you, or for a lump sum to purchase a property, for you to use as a home for the children until they are grown up.

What you apply for will depend on your partner’s financial circumstances and you would usually have to return the property or money to your partner once your children have grown up.

It is also potentially possible to apply for a lump sum to cover the cost of buying a car, furniture or appliances, as long as you can justify that this is to meet the needs of the children.


Contact us for advice on your position if you have been living together and are separating.