Family & Divorce
Many more people are now choosing to live together rather than get married. Many still have the misconception that this gives them legal rights if the relationship breaks down, the common myth of 'common law marriage'. There is no such thing and unfortunately, at present, irrespective of how long the relationship has lasted or whether there are children the financial claims on separation are very limited.
If the relationship breaks down the only claims are in relation to the family home and, if relevant, maintenance for the children. There is no ability to claim ongoing financial support or make a claim against a pension as there would be if the parties were married.
With regard to the family home, the claims will largely depend on whether the property is held in the parties joint names or one or other’s sole name. There would also need to be some investigation into how the property is held and whether there are any documents reflecting an uneven division of the equity should the house be sold.
With regard to the children, there are very helpful online calculators that help parents to work out what amount of child maintenance is appropriate. If no agreement can be reached then it is open for either parent to make an application to the Child Maintenance Service, although there are to be charges in respect of using their service to recover child maintenance. It is always therefore better to try and agree the amount if possible. You can access the online calculator by using this link to the Child Maintenance Options website.
In some cases it may be possible to make financial claims for children under the Children Act 1989. These claims are less common and will only be relevant in specific circumstances.