National Cohabitation Awareness Week: What are my rights if I live with someone?

This week, 5th to the 9th March 2018, is National Cohabitation Awareness Week. So, we hear you ask, what are your rights if you live with a partner but aren’t married?

17% of all families are in 'living with' relationships and this type of family unit is the fastest growing family type in the UK. There are almost 3 million couples who live together and are not married in England and Wales; of these 1.1 million couples have dependent children*.

Some people believe that if you live with a partner and have children together as a family, you become common law man and wife but legally there is no such thing. This means that you could be left in a vulnerable position if you separate, or one of you suddenly dies.

Many couples buy a property together as a family home. The law governing interests in property of couples who live together is complex and Court proceedings are expensive. You should think about entering into a Cohabitation Agreement: a contract which states what you each intend. If you contributed more than your partner to the purchase of the home, do you both intend that you will get that back if you separate? If you move into your partner’s home, live there for 15 years and bring up children together but he always pays the mortgage and you pay for food and clothing and expenses relating to the children, do you both intend that you will get something back financially if you separate? 

Court proceedings about properties often revolve around one person believing that they are entitled financially to something that the other person says was never intended. A Cohabitation Agreement makes it clear.

If you live with children that are not your own, should you have parental responsibility for them if they are in your care for extended periods? If your partner dies or otherwise leaves children in your care that are not your own, what Court Orders do you need to protect you and the children? Should each of you make a Will making financial provisions for each of you and any children you may have together in the event of unexpected death?

These are all common but complex issues and it is important that you take the right legal advice. To speak to a member of our team, please call 0113 201 4902 or email

Gabbie  Clasper

Written by

Gabbie Clasper

Head of Family Law

Gabbie has over 20 years’ experience in family law. She has expert knowledge in complex issues including financial aspects following divorce; pre and post-nuptial agreements; cases with an international element; and civil partnerships. Gabbie is regularly instructed by clients based across the country and abroad. She...

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