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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

15. Terms used in matters to do with living together

Civil partnership
A same-sex partnership that has been registered under the Civil Partnership Act 2004. Someone in such a partnership is called a ‘civil partner’.

These words mean the same thing. They mean someone who is living as one of an unmarried couple, as if they were husband and wife or in an ‘equivalent relationship’.

The assets and property, including homes, cars, investments, money and belongings, that you leave when you die.

Jointly and severally
This means that you are both responsible for something, generally a debt. If one of you does not pay, the other can be pursued for all the money. You can’t defend yourself by saying that the other person should pay half.

Joint tenants or tenancy
You are each treated as holding an equal share, but while the joint tenancy remains neither of you can take the other person’s share. If one of you dies, the other inherits the whole property automatically. You cannot leave your share to someone else in your will.

Parental responsibility
All the rights and duties that go with parenthood, such as the right to consent to medical treatment; the right to choose a child’s name, religion and schooling; and the duty to care for and protect the child.

Parental responsibility agreement
This can be made by the child’s father and mother, or by the people who have parental responsibility and a step-parent who is married to or a civil partner of one of the parents. There is an official form for this, which must be formally signed, and registered at the Principal Registry of the Family Division.

A guideline or template legal document that you can adapt for your particular situation.

Tenants or tenancy in common
You hold the property in shares and you can state how much you each hold when you buy the property. (If you don’t state this, the law says the shares are equal.) The shares are separate, so that you can leave your share to someone else in your will.

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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