• Myth two: Cohabitation rights - If we have children, I'll be entitled to my share of the house and to child maintenance
  • December 14, 2017
  • Law Firm: Withers LLP - London Office
  • We have children together, surely that makes a difference to my claims against the house and for maintenance?

    Yes, becoming parents together is a huge change. The relationship with your partner is never the same after the birth of a child. Initially incredible joy and then the seismic shift in lifestyle as a couple is forced to accommodate the needs of a much loved baby. Sleep deprivation, potty training, learning to ride a bike, tears after bickering in the playground, nativity plays and supporting parents association (whilst trying to avoid being chair), and then GSCE choices and career options. Being a parent makes a difference to every aspect of life… that is, apart from your legal rights if you and your partner separate.

    If you and you are partner are not married, if your relationship falters in the early stages of sleep deprivation or just before your children head off to university, your own legal rights will be the same.

    Cohabitees and child maintenance

    Whilst you will be able to claim child maintenance and, in some cases capital for the children (through a mixture of applications to the Child Maintenance Service and potentially through court), the law does not impose any financial responsibilities on cohabitees in respect of each other that are not related to the needs of a child. If you do not legally own a property (or can prove that you have an interest in it) as a cohabitee you will have no entitlement to a share. Likewise there is no entitlement to any sort of ongoing financial support by way of income from your partner, other than support related to a child. And once the children are grown up, that support ends.

    Raising awareness about cohabitation rights

    All this week, we are supporting the Resolution campaign to raise awareness about the lack of rights for cohabitants in the UK. There are things that you can do to protect your position, and it would be a good idea to consider your options, including putting in place a cohabitation agreement.

    Having said this, you may find some comfort in the fact that the law in relation to children, child maintenance and domestic violence is the same whether you are married or unmarried.

    Read tomorrow's blog to find out about child maintenance (support) and other financial claims that can be made for children when cohabiting couples separate.

    Cohabitation agreements

    For more information about cohabitation agreements, please see our article posted yesterday: Cohabitation agreements (living together agreements) – 10 things you need to know and how to get started.