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27 Living Together and Your Rights if You Separate

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1 Introduction

2. How is living together different from being married?

3. Setting up home

4. Making a ´living-together agreement´

5. When you are living together

6. If you or your partner dies

7. State benefits for people living together

8. Tax matters

9. Pensions

10. If you split up

11. Arrangements if you have children

12. Sorting out the home

13. Sorting out other items you own

You should try to sort these things out between you – mediation can help.

The legal position is broadly as follows:

  • If you paid for something, you own it, unless you gave it to the other person as a gift.
  • If you bought something together and split the cost equally, then you own it jointly and equally.
  • If you bought something out of joint funds so it is not clear who paid for what, you own it jointly and equally.
  • If you bought something together and did not pay the same amount, you own it in the shares in which you contributed.
  • If you have both pooled your money in a bank account, you own half each unless you have made an agreement about having unequal shares.

If you can’t agree about the things you own jointly, you may have an expensive battle that could cost far more than the things themselves are worth. You cannot get legal aid for this type of claim.

Financial support
As an unmarried couple, neither of you would have the right to claim maintenance for yourself against the other. You may agree that one of you will pay maintenance to the other if you think this is fair. If you want to make such an agreement legally enforceable, you can write it in the form of a deed. But you have few options for taking action if one of you breaks the agreement.

If you are looking after your children, you can claim maintenance for the children, but the court will not allow you extra maintenance for yourself as part of the sum.

14. Dealing with emergencies

15. Terms used in matters to do with living together

16. Further help

17. About this leaflet

The leaflets in this series give you an outline of your legal rights. They are not a complete guide to the law and are not intended to be a guide to how the law will apply to you or to any specific situation. The leaflets are regularly updated but the law may have changed since this was printed, so information in it may be incorrect or out of date.

If you have a problem, you will need to get more information or personal advice to work out the best way to solve it. See 'Further help' for sources of information and advice.

This leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with Imogen Clout, a solicitor and mediator specialising in family law.

Leaflet version: January 2009

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