Former spouses are entitled to claim maintenance, lump sums, adjustment of property shares and pension rights from each other on divorce. They can ask the court to change their shares in marital assets. It does not matter for example if one party owns property and the other does not. Shares can be adjusted to take account of differing incomes, need, contributions, and health. These remedies are laid down in a clear code by Act of parliament.

Unmarried couples do not enjoy the same rights.

On separation, an unmarried person will retain their own income, capital, property and pension rights unless the other party can prove they agreed to share (see ‘Sole ownership cases’).

Unmarried couples are each entitled to their share in any jointly owned property (see ‘Joint ownership cases’).

Neither can:

a) Claim from the other maintenance, lump sums or pension rights for themselves.

b) Inherit automatically from the other.

c) Unmarried fathers do not have automatic Parental Responsibility for their children.

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