The Plight of the Unmarried

Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court has given a keynote speech at a recent ‘At A Glance’ conference on the perils and pitfalls of being an unmarried couple facing relationship breakdown, and highlighting the lack of legislative certainty for those couples, compared to their married counterparts.

He covers many of the cases he has been involved in while sitting in the Supreme Court including Stack, Jones, Prest and Brewster.

His speech is here, and can be downloaded in pdf format.

Common Law Marriage

As the law stands, unmarried couples only have a limited capacity to make claims against each other. If you are not married to your partner you do not have an automatic right to inherit their estate.  A parent can claim maintenance for the children of the relationship, but not for themselves. Alternatively, they may have a claim to a proportion of the house in the name of their partner, but only by using antiquated trust laws that were not specifically designed for claims by cohabitees. Neither course of action is designed specifically to deal with these issues as they arise between unmarried couples, and they are cumbersome and expensive tools to use. As an unmarried partner you neither have nor gain any rights purely by virtue of living with your loved one.

In an earlier post, we set out the importance of putting measures in place to protect yourself in the event of the breakdown in an unmarried relationship. the full post can be read here.


If you would like more details on this or want to discuss your family law matter, please do not hesitate to contact James or Frank. Paradigm Family Law offers a free initial consultation and our fixed fee solutions cover financial proceedings from start to finish. You can call us on 01904 217225 or email us to [email protected].

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