Separation (Married and Unmarried couples)


People who are married or in a civil partnership and agree to separate, but who do not want to divorce or dissolve their civil partnership at that time and reach agreement with regard to their financial affairs, can enter into a written agreement setting out what they intend to happen to their money, property and other practical issues as a consequence of their current or planned separation. This written agreement is called a separation agreement. It is a contractual agreement between the parties to a marriage or civil partnership dealing with:

  • your agreement to live apart
  • your obligations to maintain one another and any children of the family
  • the distribution of your assets, and
  • arrangements for any children of the family

Couples who are not married even if they have lived together for some time do not have the same rights to make claims against each other as married couples or civil partners even when you have children together. The ‘common law’ wife or husband does not exist in law, and claims by unmarried couples are very limited in comparison with spouses or civil partners. You will want to know what your situation is though the starting point is that you will each keep what you have in your name.


Disputes between unmarried couples regarding interests in a property can be particularly complex especially where the property is owned only in one party’s name and are determined in accordance with the law of trusts. It can be challenging to establish an interest in a property where it is solely owned by your cohabitant or former cohabitant and there is no written express trust.


Guidance on making representations on your behalf to reach an agreement and preparing an agreement or advising on your interests as well as support throughout the process is provided in accordance with your particular circumstances.


If you would like more information and/or a written guide in relation to this please contact us.