Children of cohabiting couples who are splitting up

8th March 2015 by

When considering arrangements for children legal implications for cohabiting couples are similar to those for married and civil-partnered couples. Children are protected in UK family law and family courts will, when necessary, seek to ensure that children of unmarried parents will be able to maintain strong and meaningful relationships with both of them.

Child support for cohabiting couple

Both parents will be financially responsible for their children and the parent who does not live with his or her children is legally obliged to pay child support.

In cases where the parent who lives with the children is on benefits, the Child Support Agency (CSA) will automatically become involved to establish how much the absent parent should pay towards child upkeep and the agency will be able to arrange collection of this amount on a regular basis.

Absent parents are not obliged to support their ex-partner’s children from previous relationships unless he or she has formally adopted them.

Where former cohabiting parents decide to agree child support amongst themselves they are not obliged to involve the CSA; however, it is always best to consult a family law solicitor who will be able to advise on the drawing up of a formal separation agreement which includes stipulations on child support payments.

Although separation agreements are not legally binding in family law courts, should an absent parent default on paying child support, such a document can help a court to be aware that the couple had discussed appropriate terms at the outset of separation. As such, a court might look favourably on seeking enforcement of child support payments – usually this would be through the CSA.

Division of assets and property

Cohabiting couples with children, who live in a family home which is not jointly or equally owned by both parties, may well find it useful to speak to a family lawyer in respect of division of assets, especially if one parent is going to stay in the property with the children.

Cohabiting parents who have not drawn up a formal agreement outlining their financial claim on, and intentions for, the property may find themselves disadvantaged when children are no longer considered dependants as the property could be sold by the legal owner without warning. It is always best to seek the advice of a lawyer at the outset of separation rather than to unravel perceived intentions for property and assets during court proceedings at a much later date.

Healys family lawyers in Brighton and London can help

If you would like to discuss your situation as a cohabiting parent, the family law team at Healys is here to help.

We will be able to advise you on the best course of action for your particular circumstances and we always attempt to bring your wishes to their best possible conclusion in the most cost-effective manner possible.

If you wish to speak to a family lawyer in Brighton please call 01273 685 888 or email an enquiry to

Alternatively the family law team in London can be reached on 020 7822 4000. We look forward to helping you.

For advice regarding civil partnerships please call Catherine Taylor on 01273 669 124 or e-mail on

*The information in this article is intended for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form and is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice. If you would like advice specific to your circumstances please contact us.