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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

14. Dealing with emergencies

What if my partner is violent to me or to the children?
If you need to, first get yourself (and the children) away from your partner as soon as you can. Then call the police.

If you have been badly hurt, go to your doctor or the local hospital. Explain what has happened and ask them to record your injuries so that they can give evidence about them if you need it. It may be helpful to get photographs of injuries while they are fresh.

Phone a solicitor and arrange to see him or her as soon as possible if you think you need legal help.

See ‘Further help’ for details of agencies that can help you if you are a victim or at risk of domestic violence. See also the Gurkha Free Legal Advice leaflet ‘Domestic Violence, Abuse and Harassment’.

What can the law do to protect me?
The police may take action against your partner if he or she has committed a crime. Also, the civil courts have powers to protect you by making an order called an injunction. This can state that your partner must not harm you. It can also stop them from getting into or remaining in the home. The strength of the court order will depend on the level of protection the judge thinks you need. Sometimes, simply getting the police involved or the threat of an injunction will be enough to restrain your partner.

Can I get help to pay for this legal action?
You can be granted public funding (legal aid) very quickly to cover the cost of injunction proceedings if you need them. Your solicitor will be able to tell you if you qualify.

What if I fear that my partner will take the children away?
Tell your solicitor at the start of the case. You can then decide whether the court should be asked to make orders about the children or their passports.

‘Reunite’ can offer information and help to parents who fear that their children may be abducted. (See ‘Further help’ for how to contact Reunite).

What if my partner snatches the children?
If you think the children are likely to be taken out of the country, tell the police immediately. The police can issue a ‘port alert’ to try to stop them leaving. The police will need a full description of your partner and the children. Photographs would be useful. Tell your solicitor as soon as possible too.

If you do not think they will leave the country tell your solicitor, who can advise you about getting an emergency court order to have the children returned.

If the children are taken out of the country, the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit may be able to help (see ‘Further help’).

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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