There is a popular myth which has persisted for many years that if a couple live together over a number of months or years they automatically acquire a legal status as ‘common law’ husbands and wives. This is not the case.
When the relationship of a cohabiting couple breaks down the only legal claims arising may be as follows:-
- Property ownership. The Court will need to consider how a property is legally owned between the couple.
- Claims for financial support for children under the Children Act 1989
Unlike when a couple are married or in a civil partnership and the relationship ends the Court has no power to order payment of maintenance to a former cohabitee for themselves. Likewise the Court cannot make orders regarding pension sharing and the division of other assets.