Lead Forensics
Prettys Solicitors Ipswich

Family law

Living Together

Prettys family law solicitors often advise partners who live together, and give advice over separations. We help people in the Ipswich and Chelmsford areas, as well as those across East Anglia and the rest of the UK.  

What rights do I have if I live with my partner?

Broadly, you have a legal right to your share of any jointly-owned assets such as property or bank accounts.  You may also have a beneficial interest in an asset not in your name (usually property) if you can prove that you have made a financial contribution such as towards the mortgage on a house etc.  A beneficial interest is not as certain as a legal right but can be established with documentary evidence of financial contribution.  There have over the years been a number of cases seeking to determine what sort of contributions are relevant. 

The house is in my name and s/he never paid a penny despite us living together for a number of years.  Do I owe my ex anything?

The court’s starting point is that whoever owns the property retains the property unless the other person can prove a financial contribution that means some of the equity should be shared with them.  Not everyone can prove this even in a long cohabitation.  As above, financial contributions can be towards items such as mortgage or utilities. 

The house was in my name and after s/he moved in I put it into joint names.  Do I have to pay half the equity to him/her?

As above, the starting point is how the property is held – whether in joint names or sole name.  This does not, however, prevent the judge also considering the context to how the transfer into joint names came about, whether or not legal advice was sought, and the reliance that either of you put upon what you understood to be the intentions of your ex-partner. Financial contribution before and after the transfer can also be considered. As this type of issue is often contentious, consider our Talking Works service to seek to avoid court.

Can I claim against assets such as pensions or income?

No.  Claims are limited to capital and property, though if you have a child under 18 together child maintenance will need to be considered as it is payable regardless of whether the parents were married or cohabiting.

Do I have to have lived with someone for a certain period of time to claim?

No.  The length of the relationship is often of less relevance than the financial contributions, which may need to be proven with documentation.

We have children, surely I can stay in the house even if it is not in my name?

This is a difficult one.  Firstly, have a look at our Unmarried Parents’ Financial Claims FAQs to see if this assists. Cohabitees are not protected by law like married couples.  As a spouse you may have the right to remain while the children are under 18.  As a cohabitee you do not automatically have that right and so you cannot assume a right to stay, as it is not your property.  Consider our Talking Works service to take a discussive approach to resolving conflict that may help you achieve your goal.

What should I do next?

If you would like advice from a family dispute lawyer in Chelmsford or Ipswich, contact the Family Team on 01473 232121. Alternatively, request a call back from our family law solicitors here or e-mail us here.

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