Posted by familylaw on 5th August 2014
Last updated 23rd March 2016

It’s not only married couples who may create legal relationships with one another.  Although there is no such thing as a “common-law husband” or “common-law wife” – despite the common misconception – two people who have been in a relationship for any length of time may find that legal rights and obligations have come into existence.These fall into two broad categories: those relating to property and those relating to children.


If one member of the couple owns a property (usually, but not always, where the couple lived together), there are certain circumstances where the other member of the couple can claim that they have an interest in that property.  This can be where the owner has indicated that their partner has a share, possibly but not necessarily in writing, and/or in some circumstances where the non-owning party has made certain contributions.

Another possibility is that even though a property is held in joint names, the beneficial interest may not be shared equally.  This is a complicated area and our specialist team would be happy to discuss your particular circumstances with you.


Whether parents are married or not, the non-resident parent has an obligation to provide for any child born to them.  In many cases provision can be agreed or determined by the Child Support Agency/Child Maintenance Service.  However in some circumstances, for example if the non-resident parent lives abroad, has a particularly complex financial position, or is a high earner, an application to the CSA/CMS may not be the most effective way for a residence parent to secure financial provision for that child.  An application can be made to the Court for a variety of financial Orders for the benefit of a child.

This can be a difficult area to navigate, and our unmarried couples department at The Family Law Company, will be happy to discuss with you in more detail how we can help you and your child.

Need some advice? Get in touch today

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