Unmarried and cohabiting couples

Cohabitation - your legal rights

Cohabitation does not give someone the same legal rights and responsibilities as those who are married or in a civil partnership.

Generally speaking, the legal rights are far fewer and while the term ‘common-law wife or husband’ is frequently used; it has no legal recognition.

If you have chosen to live together you can enter into an agreement setting out arrangements that will apply while you are living together, as well as setting out what will happen if there is a breakdown of the relationship. This is called a living together agreement or cohabitation agreement.

Cohabitation agreement

A cohabitation agreement is a contract and governed by contract law it is therefore important that the agreement caters for certain issues such as property, finances, children and separation. Our specialist family department can help you draft this important agreement.

Our family team can also assist with writing a declaration of trust, which sets out the shares that each person has in the property, whether owned jointly or in one name.

If you own a property with someone who you are not married too, it is also important to consider making a Will.

Free consultation

We offer a free 20 minute family law consultation to discuss your situation. To speak to one of our family law experts or book an appointment at our Portsmouth or Waterlooville office, please call us on 023 9298 1000 or email connect@verisonalaw.com.

Our team

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Sara-Jayne Fildes
National Head of Family Law

Sara is an established senior solicitor with twenty years’ experience in all aspects of family law.

After studying Podiatric medicine and working for the NHS for several years, she made a career change in her late twenties to enter the legal profession. After finishing her studies at Nottingham Law School, she began a training contract in 1998 at The Owen Kenny Partnership and joined its Family Team as a permanent, fully qualified solicitor two years later.

‘I am sure that my years of caring for patients, listening to their concerns and trying to work out the best possible solution contributed to my aptitude for family law,’ explains Sara. ‘I have always enjoyed advocacy, felt comfortable in a courtroom, but work very hard to find a practical and cost effective solution at the earliest stage. I find using a wide range of skills helps achieve the most amicable and well thought through settlements, saving stress and expense.’

Sara specialises in advising on all matters relating to relationship break down and family disputes and has particular experience in dealing with high networth separations, complex financial affairs and sensitive issues regarding children.

Sara has successfully handled cases as far as the Court of Appeal including acting for the father in the reported case E v E (shared residence: financial relief) [2006] 1FLR 1228 concerning relocating of children. She is qualified in Collaborative Law, a Mediator and a past president of the Chichester District Law Society. Sara is also a member of the national organisation of Family Lawyers, Resolution.

Away from the office, Sara enjoys spending time with her family, looking after twins with her partner.

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Jane Wheeler
Solicitor - Family Law

Jane is a Solicitor in the Family team at Verisona Law.

After a successful twelve years in the fitness industry Jane decided to change careers. She attended the University of Southampton from 2005-08 where she obtained her law degree.

In 2010, Jane was offered a position as a Trainee Legal Executive at a firm in Portsmouth in their litigation department. After a couple of years she moved to a firm in Whiteley where she initially worked in the firm’s personal injury department. In 2014 Jane set up and ran the firm’s Family Law department, whilst studying CILEx part-time. Still keen to become a solicitor Jane attended the Legal Practice Course at the University of Law in Guildford from 2016-17.

She qualified as a Chartered Legal Executive in June 2017 and then as a Solicitor in April 2018.

Jane’s areas of expertise include:

  • Divorce and Separation
  • Dealing with finances upon divorce or separation
  • Private Children Matters
  • Injunctions
  • Pre and Post-Nuptial Agreements
  • Separation Agreements
  • Cohabitation Disputes.

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Charlene Griffin
Team Assistant - Litigation & Family

Charlene works as a Team Assistant in the Litigation & Family departments, she provides day to day support transcribing documents and being the first point of contact for clients.

Charlene has been a legal secretary for over 24 years, working in various departments including Personal Injury, Family, Wills and Probate, Conveyancing and, since starting at Verisona Law in 2017, Commercial Litigation.

When she’s not looking after her three children, Charlene enjoys running and keeping fit.

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Jacky Sneddon
Team Assistant

Jacky works as a Team Assistant to the Family team. Jacky provides day to day support, transcribing and producing documents and being the first point of contact for clients.

Jacky has been a Legal Secretary for over 40 years and has worked at Verisona Law since 1998 where she has worked in the Family Department for those 22 years.

In her spare time Jacky enjoys socialising with friends, reading, listening to music and spending time with her family.