BUSTING THE MYTHS
Contrary to popular belief, a ‘common law marriage’ does not exist. Most people think that by living together they have the same rights as married people if they separate. This is not true. Whilst both parents have similar rights to married people in relation to children, the division of property and other assets may not necessarily be as straightforward.
It is also a common misconception held by unmarried couples, that if they have lived together for a long time, they have an equal share in all the assets.
Whilst family law solicitors are trying hard to persuade the government to change the law in relation to the implications of cohabitation breakdown, it is not a priority for most governments. It therefore falls on the people who live together to make sure they are properly protected.
When two people decide to live together, the conversations they have about home ownership and how expenses should be divided will often form the backbone of a claim which can be made when that relationship breaks down. It is so important to take legal advice when buying a home together to make sure that you protect your share in the property. This may seem straightforward but many disputes come about as a result of no communication about these issues at the beginning.
So many people contribute towards the mortgage or significant renovations without having a discussion as to how these contributions should be dealt with if there is a problem in the relationship.
The lesson to learn is not to make assumptions. As unromantic as it sounds, take legal advice from the beginning and record in writing the decisions you have made jointly about your relationship.
How to resolve disputes
Where a couple are not married and their relationship breaks down, it can often be expensive to issue Court proceedings as the current law is perhaps out of touch with how people are living their lives.
Where a relationship has broken down, we will do everything to avoid Court proceedings. This can range from negotiating with the other party, arranging mediation or considering arbitration instead of the Court process. At every stage, we will discuss the options with you and advise you about which may be best for you.