Unmarried Couples

Unlike married couples, cohabiting couples have no legal obligations towards one another that arise from their relationship. The law generally treats them as unrelated individuals. Unless jointly owned, they will have no rights in relation to each other’s assets except in limited circumstances.


The majority of disputes Broadway solicitors is instructed on are in relation to the home. When the parties are not married, the strict laws of property and trusts apply. The way the law is applied depends on how the property is owned:

Generally, if the property is only in one person’s name, the other person will get nothing regardless of how long they have lived there. The only exception to this is if they can establish that they have a legal interest, usually in the form of an ‘implied trust’.

In order to establish that such a trust exists, Broadway Solicitors will seek to establish whether there was a common intention between the cohabiting couple that they should both have a legal interest in the property. The person whose name is not on the property must show that there were express discussions between the couple relating to ownership of the property.

Once the intention has been established, it must also be shown that the person relied on this to their detriment. This means that they contributed money to the property by paying for repairs or by paying the mortgage or in some circumstances, carrying out substantial DIY jobs themselves. Alternatively, if a person cannot prove that there were any express discussions relating to ownership, he or she may still be able to establish an interest in the property by proving they made a financial contribution such as a payment towards the purchase price or making mortgage payments. In addition, when a non-owner contributes directly to the purchase price of a property, the court will infer a trust unless it is clear that the money was a gift.

Unless there is a deed of trust which sets how the property is owned, the law will assume that both parties own it equally. This is the case even if one person has made a larger financial contribution. It is possible to argue that the property is not owned in equal shares but this is difficult to do unless there is clear evidence that this is the case.

If one person is contributing more money toward the purchase of a property, it is sensible to have a deed of trust drawn up to make it clear that one person owns more.

When a cohabiting couple separates, either person can apply to the court to force a sale of the property so that they can receive their share of the equity.

Broadway Solicitors can advise you in respect of issues that arise from a relationship breakdown and represent you at Court if this becomes necessary.


Both parents have a legal obligation to financially support their children, regardless of whether they are married to each other. It is possible for a parent to apply for financial provision against the other parent in relation to the children. The court can make a range of orders including requiring the parent to pay child maintenance, transfer a property or pay a lump sum to the other parent for the benefit of the children.

Financial orders are made for the benefit of the children and once they grow up, the financial support will come to an end. If you require advice on this issue please contact us.