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The notion of the ‘common law’ husband or wife really is one of the main common myths in today’s society. There is simply no such thing so beware! As the law currently stands you will not be entitled to any financial relief, nor gain any legal rights, by virtue of living with another person, unless you are married or have registered a civil partnership with that person. The principles of fairness do not apply to cohabiting couples and often there is an unjust outcome when the couple separate – as far as the law is concerned a couple who have been living together for 30 years will have the same legal position as two strangers who have just moved in to a shared house together. Whilst the law in this area is very much a hot topic for the government, it is likely to be several years before any real changes are implemented and therefore it is wise for a couple proposing to move in together to consider carefully what might happen should the relationship end, or should one of them die.
If you are planning to set up home together as an unmarried couple, or indeed have already done so, it is advisable to consider entering into a living together agreement which will record the intentions and contributions of you both. Whilst this might not be considered the most romantic concept, entering into a formal agreement detailing what will happen should the relationship end is likely to save you both very costly and emotional litigation in the long run. In fact such an agreement often makes the relationship stronger by setting aside any fears an individual may have, knowing that they will be protected financially should the relationship end, especially where the property is not jointly owned.
The following issues are likely to be covered by the agreement:
DEATH OF A PARTNER
If your partner has passed away and you had been living together for more than 2 years immediately before their death you may have an inheritance act claim and be entitled to financial provision out of their estate if you are able to show that you were financially dependent upon them. Such applications have strict time limits and involve complex areas of law. We are able to offer specialist advice in this area of law.