Many couples live together without formalising their relationship by getting married or entering into a civil partnership. Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a "common law" wife or husband and the law only offers limited legal remedies to cohabitees, even if you have lived together for several years.
One of the most difficult issues that can arise when the relationship between cohabitees ends is in relation to any property owned in joint or sole names. It is important to seek legal advice at an early stage to establish the position and any steps that may need to be taken. If you have children, it is also important to consider what financial provision can be made for them as well as parenting issues.
Often, the most effective way to minimise any dispute that may arise should a relationship end is to enter into a cohabitation agreement at the start, which is similar to a pre-nuptial agreement, and sets out your intentions in the event of separation. If you intend purchasing a property together, it is also important to consider entering into a trust deed to specify and safeguard you and your partner’s interests.
If you have children together, then you may wish to take advice about parental responsibility or other issues that arise.
Even if you are living together you are not considered to be your partner’s “next of kin”, so we recommend that you make Wills to ensure that you make adequate provision for each other in the event of death, and consider making a Lasting Power of Attorney. Some pension providers do not automatically pay a survivor’s pension to the partner they live with in the event of death.