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Unmarried Couples

Unmarried Couples

Unlike in some other countries, English law does not provide unmarried couples with the same sorts of financial claims against their partners that are available to married couples or those in civil partnerships.

This means separation can be a particularly uncertain time for unmarried couples.

We advise many unmarried families about their rights and entitlements on relationship breakdown, most commonly relating to property and children.

  • In many cases issues may arise in relation to the ownership of a property. It may be that the property was jointly owned by you, or in one person’s name with you or your partner having made contributions toward it.
  • If you and your partner have a child or children then you may potentially need to pay child maintenance to your partner for the children’s benefit - or may be entitled to claim it from your partner. In some circumstances you may be able to apply to the court for financial provision, such as a property or a lump sum for the benefit of you and your child or for payment of school fees.

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Financial provision for the children of unmarried couples

When a married couple divorce in England, the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 provides a wide range of financial provision for the spouses.  Where an unmarried couple have a child together, the parent with care may have to seek financial provision for the child under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989.  

This article explores the decision in the case of PG v TW (no.2) (Child: financial provision).

iGuide: Child Maintenance

Many parents are able to agree child maintenance, or where necessary have to involve the Child Support Agency. Our iGuide explains more about child support arrangements.

FAQ: Cohabitation and Common Law Marriage

Frequently asked questions ­about Cohabitation and Common Law Marriage

The Family Law Show: Programme 6 - Unmarried Couples

Stuart Clark and Lucy Loizou discuss the rights of unmarried couples and their children

iGuide: Resolution by Out of Court Settlements

There are many different ways to resolve cases without the need to go to court. Here is our iGuide in relation to out of court settlements.