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Even though you will share the same financial worries and concerns about your children’s future care as a married couple, if you are a separating unmarried cohabiting couple, then you do not have the same rights. Cohabitation and Separation agreements can help you reach an agreement that is beneficial for all parties.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

For unmarried couples who decide to live together, it is a good idea to agree in a legal document known as a Cohabitation Agreement who owns what, how household bills will be met, how the assets will be divided and what arrangements will be made to support the children in the event of the relationship breaking down.

The Family Law team at Sweeney Miller are experienced in dealing with a wide range of issues when unmarried couples split enabling them to draft a comprehensive Cohabitation Agreement that covers most eventualities, avoiding problems in the future.

What is a Separation Agreement?

If there is no Cohabitation Agreement already in place, then the most straightforward way of dealing with an unmarried split is through a Separation Agreement. This is a legally binding agreement that sets out how your property, assets, together with any debts will be dealt with and can include certain arrangements for the children.

As there can be complex family issues and assets to consider, it is important to get specialist advice from a family law solicitor. The Family lawyers at Sweeney Miller regularly advise on all aspects of Separation Agreements, helping to negotiate the fairest result that enables everyone involved to move on with their lives.

Unmarried couples and property

If there was no Cohabitation Agreement, the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act, sometimes known as ToLATA, gives Courts the powers to help resolve disputes between unmarried couples who own property together when they split.

Whilst the Court can order a sale of the property, who can live there or clarify the share of the property, it cannot change a pre-existing Declaration of Trust in place which confirms the ownership or the proportion of the property each of the couple owns. Our Family team can help you navigate the complex issues surrounding unmarried couples and property, taking steps to avoid Court if at all possible.

Sweeney Miller also has a separate conveyancing team who can deal with the sale of any property following an unmarried split.

What about pensions and assets on separation?

Unmarried couples generally don’t have a claim on each other’s pensions.  Assets are viewed in a similar way by the Courts – you own what you paid for – unless it can be shown that an item was a gift, in which case the recipient will be able to claim ownership.

What about the children?

It is important that unmarried parents have Parental Responsibility for their children – this is the right and responsibility to look after the child. Mothers automatically have Parental Responsibility and since December 2003, an unmarried father whose name is on their child’s birth certificate automatically has it. You can apply for Parental Responsibility if:

  • You are the father, but your name is not on your child’s birth certificate
  • You are the father and named on your child’s birth certificate, but your child was born before December 2003.

Rules for occupying a property or making a claim for a share in a property are more complicated when you have children, too.  Contact our Family Law Solicitors for advice about Parental Responsibility and how to manage your assets with your children’s best interests in mind. Sweeney Miller’s child custody lawyers can help with matters such as agreeing on child contact and child arrangement orders.

If you are not married and go on to separate, it is important to review any Will that you have made. If you never had a Will, then your ex may be able to claim on your estate if you die. We work closely with Sweeney Miller’s team of wills and probate solicitors who can make sure that your wishes are met after the split.

With offices in Sunderland and Newcastle, our family law solicitors work with clients across the North East. For a free no obligation first discussion please get in touch:

Family Solicitors in Sunderland: 0191 568 2050
Family Solicitors in Newcastle: 0345 900 5401
Email enquiries@sweeneymiller.co.uk

  • Stephanie, this is to express my appreciation to you and the entire team that helped with my mortgage. I am very grateful for the professionalism displayed throughout.

     

    Mr A of Ipswich
  • Elly – Thanks for getting back to me so quickly.

    I actually wanted to thank you, you have been brilliant through the whole process. Thank you for being clear with me. I will gladly refer you to friends and family 🙂

    Mr & Mrs M of London
  • Being in our 60’s buying another property was daunting to say the least but Damien made everything uncomplicated, can’t believe how smooth everything went.

    Mr & Mrs M of Chester Le Street
  • Abbey –  On behalf of myself and all my family,  we are extremely grateful for your professionalism and support during this stressful process for us. We are very happy to have our first house and we couldn’t do this without your help. Thank you!

    Miss A of Rugby
  • Hi All,

    I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all, for all the hard work you have periodically contributed over this rather long journey we have had together.

    I was very worried about going with a solicitors which wasn’t local but ohhh how I was wrong. I genuinely don’t think we could of done better and we will recommend your firm to everyone.

    Kara!! You are amazing and thank you for going completely above and beyond in the last 6 months. We never once felt like just money signs and actually felt like you cared and shared all our ups and downs with us.

    Thank you all again for everything.

    Much Love

    Miss D & Mr C of Dudley
  • Special mention to Alys Terebenec  who dealt with our sale and purchase in an excellent manner. Keeping us up to date at all times and explained the process on the way.

    Mr and Mrs W of Sunderland
  • Kara, we would like to say a huge thank you for helping us with our sale and purchase. This was the first time we had sold and purchased a property, we had no clue as to what to do but your explanation of things and the communication you kept with us made it much easier. I would also like to thank David Turk, Zarah Rowntree, Emma Hunter, Isabelle Levitt and Chloe Slater for the work and correspondence in the last days before the completion and making the final few days go smoothly. We will definitely be requesting the services of Sweeney Miller and also recommending you to friends and family in the future.

    Mr and Mrs E of The West Midlands
  • I have used Sweeney Miller’s conveyancing services twice this year. Once to oversee the sale of my apartment & subsequently to manage all matters in relation to a complex housing purchase. Throughout, all staff I dealt with were knowledgeable, courteous and efficient in handling my case and the queries I had. 

    A law firm that takes pride in delivering excellent customer service.

    Mr H of London
  • Thank you so much for the speedy and professional services I received from you. I really appreciate the clear and prompt communication – especially over the phone. I’ve already recommended Sweeney Miller to others 🙂

    Mr P of Newcastle
  • Lois – could you please pass on our thanks for a great service for the purchase of our property, you couldn’t have been anymore helpful and kept us informed all the way through the purchase.

    We will be recommending you to any friends or family who need your services.

    Mr and Mrs C of Gloucestershire
  • Stephanie – Thank you to you and your team for all your professional support and faultless communications. Much appreciated.

    Mrs D of Devon
  • David – this is just to thank you for your excellent service which you (and Alex) provided in completing a variety of matters on behalf of the family.

    Mr P of Sunderland
  • Thank you to all of the admin staff that have helped us with the completion of the paperwork and making sure deadlines are met and for always going that extra mile to help and getting back to me with any questions promptly.

    Thank you to Irenna for all of her hard work during the stressful process of the purchase. I could not have dealt with the purchase without you all and I will never forget how hard you have all worked to make my dream come true. I would have no doubt in recommending you to family and friends.

    Mr and Mrs H of Wolverhampton
  • Thank you very much for your help throughout the process. I’m really pleased the way you handled the conveyancing. Thanks again, surely recommendable service.

    Mr P of Epping
  • Kara we can’t fault you, you kept us updated all the time. Thank you!

    Mrs B from Crewe