The law for the separation of assets and income for unmarried couples in England and Wales is much misunderstood. There is a widely held view that the longer the relationship lasts the greater the entitlement to assets and income, and that couples can become "common law" spouses and so benefit from the standard divorce claims on separation. Neither of these is true.
Despite call for reform of the law, such cases are still dealt with under property law and the law of trusts, with the added complication of possible claims for children under the Children Act 1989, and CMEC (formerly the CSA).
Generally, the settlements are beneficial to the property owning party, and there is no provision for the equivalent of spousal maintenance.
We are able to advise you as to the consequences of your separation, which are often very different from the settlement you would have achieved if you had been married, or in certain circumstances engaged.
We have the necessary expertise in our property, litigation and tax teams to deal with the specific issues that frequently arise in such cases, and can also give advice at the outset of such a relationship or during it as to the best way to protect your assets and income if you subsequently separate.
It should be noted that the regime in Scotland is very different for cohabitees and the perceived success or otherwise of that regime, which gives cohabitees greater property rights, is being studied by the government here to determine how (and when) our legislation will be reformed.
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