Cohabitation: Know Your Rights

After revealing a number of disturbing preconceptions from couples who choose to live together without getting married, the family law association ‘Resolution’ has put issues surrounding cohabitation in the spotlight and firmly on the agenda of the legal profession. Verisona Law’s family specialist, Jane Wheeler, explains why.

The number of couples who choose to live together rather than get married has doubled in the last twenty years. Current statistics reveal the 2017 figure for cohabitation stands at 3.3 million couples in the UK.

For several years Resolution has been actively considering the question of comprehensive reform in this area, and several private Cohabitation Bills have been introduced into Parliament which have not succeeded.

In a poll conducted by professional body Resolution, 281 of 2,000 individuals said they were in a cohabiting relationship and the statistics that have been most troubling for the legal profession are that two-thirds of those believed they were ‘as good as married’ and that their partner is their “common law spouse”.

The myth of the ‘common law marriage’ persists, despite all the efforts of Resolution, the Government’s Advice Now campaign and the Law Commission’s Report in 2007, which clearly identified the lack of rights of couples who live together have and the need to reform the law.

‘I do not know of anyone working in family law that has not had to explain to a client that there is no such thing as ‘Common Law Marriage’,’ says specialist Jane Wheeler from Verisona Law. ‘Whilst marriage is usually a demonstration of romance and source for celebration, it is actually a contract that gives legal rights and protection to each spouse. Without it, there are no specific rights’.

When a cohabiting couple split up:

  • Neither party can claim maintenance from the other;
  • Maintenance for any children of the relationship can either be agreed by the couple or claimed via the Child Maintenance Service;
  • Ownership of the home will be determined by land law principles and an order for sale may be obtained;
  • Occupation of the home may be obtained by establishing a contractual licence or a licence by estoppel or obtaining a property order in favour of a child or children, or temporarily, by obtaining an occupation order;
  • Where the home is held under a tenancy, it is possible to have a transfer of tenancy order under the Family Law Act 1996;

Jane agrees with the campaign by Resolution calling for the government to update the laws for what is becoming the fastest-growing family type in the UK. ‘Society is changing and we have become increasingly accepting of less formal relationships which is positive, but also challenging should they break down. The law should be called upon to protect and look after individuals and, at this present moment in time, for over six and a half million cohabiting people, it doesn’t.’

Jane Wheeler is a Legal Executive in the Family team at Verisona Law and can advise on all aspects of pre-nups and post-nups. If you would like further information please contact Jane on 023 9224 6714 or email

We have set out below a full list of the services our Family Department can provide whatever your circumstances. If you do however have a query which does not relate to any matter detailed below, please do contact our Family team who will endeavour to assist you.

Divorce or Civil Partnership Dissolution

Whether you are the Petitioner or the Respondent within proceedings or whether you are simply contemplating the same we can provide guidance throughout the entire process. We can assist with:

  • Drafting of documents
  • Negotiations with the other party
  • Correspondence with third parties such as the Court
  • Advice face to face, by telephone, by email.

Pre-Nuptial and Post-Nuptial Agreements

Whether you are planning to marry or indeed have now married and wish to formalise arrangements in the event of separation we can advise and assist with the following:

  • Drafting agreements
  • Negotiating settlement
  • Corresponding with all parties


Whether you are married or living together and in the event you decide to go your separate ways we can assist in formally documenting terms of separation. We can assist in the following ways:

  • Drafting Separation Agreements whether in contemplation of divorce or whether to simply record the split of a cohabiting couple
  • Negotiations with third parties
  • Providing you with advice whether face to face, by telephone or by email.


Arbitration is an alternative to resolving disputes through the Court. At Verisona Law we can assist in a number of ways either by assisting you through the Arbitration or by referring matters to our in house Arbitrator. We offer competitive arbitration rates and a member of our team will be happy to assist with any queries in this regard. Please see our current articles on Arbitration for more details about the process.

Cohabitees/living together

If you have chosen not to marry but wish to live together you may wish to formalise the arrangements and details for doing so. We can assist in the following:

  • Drafting cohabitation agreements/living together agreements
  • Negotiations with all parties
  • Advising you in person, by telephone or email as appropriate.

Divorce where Business are involved

We have extensive experience in dealing with breakdown of marriage where one or both parties are owners of businesses or indeed it may be the family business. We have experience in providing you with advice and signposting for business valuations and will ensure that the business as an asset is dealt with appropriately within any proceedings.


In addition to being able to provide specialised advice in relation to Public Sector pensions our team at Verisona Law has vast knowledge concerning all pension arrangements and can ensure that they are dealt with appropriately within any divorce proceedings. Please seek advice from a member of our team.

Parental Responsibility

We are able to advise on all aspects of Parental Responsibility including:

  • Agreements / Orders
  • Exercising your Parental Responsibility rights and duties where appropriate
  • Arising out of Parental Responsibility we can advise on applications for a Specific Issue Order to the Court if appropriate.

If you have any queries concerning Parental Responsibility and its impact on you or indeed whether you have Parental Responsibility for your children, please seek advice from a member of our team.

Assisting through Mediation

Whilst we do direct a number of matters through Mediation, this does not mean that you cannot have legal advice throughout the process. We can advise and assist you through the Mediation process and arrange thereafter to draw up formally any agreement reached be this by way of a Consent Order in divorce proceedings or simply to record in an open document the agreement you have reached at Mediation concerning the subject of your dispute.

Property Disputes

Whether you are married or otherwise, or indeed simply have an interest in a property owned by another we can provide you with advice and assistance including;

  • Applications to the Court
  • Negotiations with all parties
  • Advising and assisting you face to face, by telephone or by email.

Collaborative Law

This is an alternative way to resolve family disputes without the involvement of the Court. The Collaborative process requires both parties to have a Collaborative Lawyer and endeavours to resolve any disputes by way of four way meetings. We at Verisona Law can assist you through the Collaborative process. If this is an avenue of resolving dispute that you would be interested in, please contact a member of our team.


We at Verisona Law can provide you with advice and guidance concerning any disputes you may have relating to your child. This may be with whom the child lives, with whom the child spends time with, a specific issue concerning a child or steps that you wish to take to prevent something happening (Prohibited Steps Order). We can also advise you in relation to maintenance disputes with a third party guidance with dealing with the Child Maintenance Service. If you have a query with any issue concerning your child please contact a member of our team.

Change of Name

Please contact a member of our team if you are interested in changing your first or surname to discuss the drafting of a Change of Name Deed. We offer a fixed price for a Change of Name and we can provide you with further information upon request.

I went to Verisona Law because I had been unsatisfied with two previous attempts with other firms. Verisona gave that real sense of service, feel like a client they were happy to assist at all times and ultimately gave the BEST advice and guidance. Dont waste money; go to Verisona FIRST!

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