Living together for a long time and/or having children does not give you the same ‘rights’ as a married couple or civil partnership if your relationship breaks down. It is important for you to know that there is no legal status for cohabiting couples and there is no such thing as a common law wife or husband.
This information applies if you want to split up with someone you’re living with. It applies whether you’re gay, lesbian or heterosexual. It’s not for people who are married or in a civil partnership.
If you are living with your partner and your relationship ends, you do not have to take any legal action to separate. However, there may be issues about children, housing, property and money to sort out. This can be done either by informal agreement or by making a written separation agreement.
If you have children, a court can make orders about who the children should live with and have contact with.
A court can also make an order about rights to stay in your home and selling any jointly-owned property.
If you are thinking of going to court to sort out disagreements about the children, money or housing, or if domestic abuse is involved, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, a family law solicitor. Lists of solicitors can be obtained from your local Citizens Advice Bureau or the Law Society website.
*Legal information given above is not legal advice. Please contact a solicitor to get legal advice.