phone    020 8974 7490   

Kingston Upon Thames and Central London, Waterloo


Cohabiting Couple’s Rights

Contact us for a Free Consultation or phone us on 020 8974 7490

Over 3 million UK couples currently cohabit without getting married or entering civil partnerships. Unfortunately, the law has so far failed to catch up with 21st Century life and cohabiting couples’ rights are still limited at best.

Cohabiting Couple’s Rights

Many couples choose to cohabit under the misguided presumption that the terms of ‘common-law marriage’ will protect their interests. Unfortunately, ‘common-law marriage’ simply does not exist. For couples in England and Wales, this means cohabiting partners do not have:

  • Automatic rights to their partner’s property in the event of said partner’s death.
  • Automatic rights to inherit their partner’s estate unless a will is in place, even if the couple have children together.
  • None of the tax reliefs/exemptions enjoyed by spouses or civil partners. This includes pensions.
  • There is a little help available under English & Welsh law, but this help is somewhat restricted:
  • Financial provision for the children (under the age of 18) of cohabitants is provided by Schedule 1 of the 1989 Children Act.
  • If the couple jointly owns a Land Registry registered property, both partners are entitled to their share. If, however, one partner is reluctant to put the property up for sale, the other partner may have to get a court order for it to be sold.
  • If one of the partners has made a significant contribution to the home (i.e. renovations or the mortgage), establishing a claim may be possible.
  • If a partner can prove financial dependence on the other partner during the relationship, making a claim under the 1975 Provision for Family & Dependants Act may be possible.

The UK’s Cohabitation Rights Bill currently moving through parliament will, if passed, offer long-term cohabitants across the UK some basic protection. Unfortunately, concerns that passing it may undermine the institutions of marriage/civil partnership mean there is some opposition to this bill. In the meantime, you face the following risks:

  • If your name is not on a rental agreement or property deed, you are not automatically entitled to stay in your home. You may be asked to leave your home and left with nothing even if you have put money into it by, for example, helping with a mortgage or deposit, paying bills, etc.
  • If you had children together, one of you would be obligated to support the children, but not to support the other partner. This could make supporting their family difficult for the latter.

How to Protect Yourself

If it is not an option to get married or enter into a civil partnership, there are still a few precautions you can take to protect yourself, including making a:

Cohabitation Agreement – Setting out your agreed intentions for matters like arrangements for children, property and finances in case you separate, a cohabitation agreement may cover anything from how to support a partner who gave up a career to care for children to who gets your pet.

Declaration of Trust – Setting out how and in what shares you wish to own a property, a declaration of trust can also cover your intentions in the event of separation. If you purchase a property together but do not contribute equal shares, it can, for example, ensure each partner gets a fair portion of what they have put into the property back. Provision of a loan to cover the deposit by one of you may, for instance, be recorded to ensure they get the money back if you split up and sell the property.

Will – Unless it is spelled out within a will, you will not be automatically entitled to inherit their share of possessions/property if your partner dies. Even if you have cohabited in a joint property for decades, without your name on the property’s deed or being named as the beneficiary within a will, you could lose your home and any rights to the proceeds of a sale thereof.

We can provide you with a fixed fee for this service so you will know exactly what costs you will need to pay.

If you would like more detailed information on your rights as a cohabiting couple and/or need legal advice concerning your best options in the event of something unforeseen happening, please do not hesitate to contact us on 020 8974 7490 or to arrange an initial consultation to discuss the best way forward for you and we will provide you with further and specific advice tailored to your circumstances.
Our experienced and understanding team are here to help you. We will work with you to ensure the best possible outcome.


  • We engaged Rose and Rose to recover a bad debt. Their service was excellent and we recovered the full amount plus costs with minimal effort. I have no hesitation in recommending their services and we will certainly use them in the future.
  • Trustworthy and efficient service from this team of friendly and professional solicitors. I would recommend Rose and Rose.
  • Rose and Rose Kingston provided extensive support to me whilst selling my property. We had a number of challenges to overcome but at no point did I feel I did not know what was happening in the process. They are extremely helpful, supportive and explained everything to me in simple terms. In future I will only recommend and use Rose and Rose.
  • We have recommended the services of Rose and Rose many times to either our clients selling properties or their buyers. Every time we have a transaction where they are involved it gives us great reassurance that the deal will be done efficiently, that updates are always available and that the parties involved have a clear understanding of the transaction. Those that we have referred to Rose and Rose have always been extremely happy with the service and have achieved the right end result.
  • Rose and Rose are now officially my favourite and most helpful solicitor.
  • Rose and Rose were exceptional to deal with. Instructed by a buyer of ours they were nothing but helpful and pleasant throughout the transaction, always at the end of the telephone if needed, and as a result of their obvious expertise the sale went through effortlessly. I can highly recommend them.
  • Both my sister and I used Rose and Rose for our conveyancing. We were extremely happy with the service provided, it was professional, friendly and expedient. I would definitely use Rose and Rose in the future.
  • Rose and Rose provided an excellent service when it came to selling our property and buying another. We were able to contact them when needed and we found them approachable and efficient. We would have no hesitation in recommending this solicitor.
  • I have no hesitation in recommending Rose and Rose who acted for me in the sale and purchase of my home.
  • Rose and Rose are the best solicitors that I have dealt with, and the only one I will be dealing with from now on. The professional approach and service they offer is second to none. Their ability to always keep you informed with what is going on has been extremely helpful and given me peace of mind.
  • Rose and Rose recently handled the conveyancing for the sale of our property and we were extremely impressed with the level of service we received. The overall process was quick and efficient. Although these matters can be extremely stressful the staff involved were friendly, thoughtful and approachable yet totally professional throughout. This in effect enabled the sale to proceed relatively smoothly. I would therefore not hesitate to employ the services of Rose and Rose in the future. Robert P
  • Rose and Rose have helped me with conveyancing but also with my divorce and not only have they done a good job, they have ensured my costs have been contained as much as possible. They offer an exceptionally good service and explain the law in plain English, they are very friendly and easy to deal with.
  • Great, helpful advice and support from people who understand what you want and deliver in a straightforward manner in plain English. I highly recommend Rose and Rose Solicitors in Kingston.
  • I have used Rose and Rose Solicitors on a number of occasions and have always found them to be extremely friendly and helpful. They always provide excellent advice and do so in a cost effective manner whilst maintaining an extremely personal service and they really seem to care about you. I would have no problem in recommending their services to any of my friends, family and clients.
  • Rose & Rose Solicitors have a surprisingly refreshing approach to the Law. Whilst obviously highly committed and professional they are relaxed, friendly and approachable making all your dealings with them, in often very difficult circumstances, as stress free as possible. Highly recommend. Rose & Rose is a well rounded solicitors' firm, they have managed to help us through our business legal requirements with their fast, reliable and cost effective service. They have met our demand and need every time. Rose & Rose in Kingston successfully assisted my girlfriend's business in clawing back a large chunk of bad debt that a company were refusing to pay. I was so impressed with the simplicity and ease in which they dealt with the situation that I will use Rose & Rose Solicitors to represent all my own company's legal requirements including employment contracts, conveyancing, dispute resolution, etc. Rose and Rose provide their considerable expertise in a relaxed, friendly and unstuffy way. They have assisted my company and my clients and I would not hesitate to recommend them.
  • We have been involved in a number of sales where Rose and Rose have represented either the buyer or seller and on every occasion they have been a pleasure to deal with. The team make themselves very available and always respond to messages and emails quickly and always seem to be in command of a situation. This is so important to us as we need to keep our customers up to speed at all times. We aspire to delivering excellent service to our customers and they certainly help a great deal in this respect. Our customers who have used Rose and Rose have all been complimentary about the service they have received and how easy everyone there is to deal with.