The advice that you will receive if you are a co-habiting couple, that is a couple who are living together as opposed to a couple who are married is very different. You still hear there is a common law myth, common law husband and wife, it is a myth. There is no such thing. In relation to a co-habiting couple that is a couple who are living together the advice you will receive is usually limited to two issues. Do you have any children together? And is there a property, are there any assets? In relation to children, a mother of a child always has parental responsibility for a child. In relation to an unmarried father, the law changed in December 2003, so if a father’s name appears on a child’s birth certificate from December 2003 onwards, he will also have parental responsibility. Parental responsibility is defined under the Children Act 1989, is all the rights, powers responsibility which a parent has in relation to a child and his or her property. It relates to making important decisions such as schooling, urgent medical treatment, changing surname etc.
In relation to a property asset, we have to basically look at who owns the property, is it owned in the parties’ joint names or is it owned in one of the parties’ sole name. If that is the case we then have to established, how was it purchased, how did the parties arrange their finances, who paid the deposit, who paid the mortgage etc. and then we can tailor our advice to that particular case.