Family law legal advice for cohabiting couples who are splitting up

8th March 2015 by


Couples who have been living together but who are not married or in a civil partnership may find it necessary to seek legal advice if their relationship comes to an end.

Healys’ family law solicitors in Brighton and London can help if you need advice about fair division of money, possessions and property, and your legal rights regarding arrangements for children.

At the time of writing (April 2012) parties in a cohabiting relationship do not have the same legal rights in a financial claim as those who are married or civil-partnered.

However, there are certain steps a cohabiting couple can take to help minimise dispute and to protect their interests should the relationship break down.

Living together agreements

Formally drawn up living together agreements are akin to pre-nuptial agreements and can include items such as who brought what wealth to the relationship, details regarding ownership of property and intention for property should the relationship break down.

They will not be legally binding, but they can help a court see what possessions and intentions a couple had at the outset of a relationship and this may affect any ruling made about how property is shared once the couple has separated if the parties cannot agree.

Separation agreements

Just as couples undergoing divorce may dispute who gets what from the relationship, cohabiting couples who have been in a relationship for some time might disagree about fair division of property, wealth and children arrangements.

However, unlike a divorce, unmarried partners and those who have not entered into a civil partnership are not protected in the same way by English and Welsh family law.

If a couple can do their best to agree terms for a split, it may be beneficial to seek the advice of family law solicitors to help them draw up a formal separation agreement. This document can detail how property, possessions and wealth are to be divided and can help prevent disputes at a later date.

If the parties cannot agree terms, then a solicitor may be able to help with negotiations or arrange for the parties to undergo mediation in order to settle a separation agreement.

A well-drawn-up separation agreement may help prevent the need to go to court either at the time of a split or later on and it will effectively become a “contract” between the parties. Should one party default or renege on the agreement, the other party will be able to take their ex-partner to court for breach of contract.

To give the agreement the best chance of being legally binding, the advice of family law solicitors is essential as they will be able to ensure the contents of the document are fair, legal and that no-one is disadvantaged as a result of the agreement.

Healys family law solicitors in Brighton and London

If you would like to know more about how a living together or separation agreement could be of benefit to you, our family law teams in our Brighton and London offices are waiting to talk to you now.

We can advise, in complete confidence, about the ramifications of separating from your partner and how to secure your best interests through the drafting of a separation agreement.

If you wish to speak to a divorce solicitor 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.