Legal Rights For Unmarried Couples

Separation for Co-habiting and Unmarried Couples

The law does not protect co-habiting or unmarried couples in the same way as it protects married couples.

If you are separating from your partner, you may own property or assets together that will have to be shared upon separation.

You may also have children and arrangements will need to be made for them for the future. Please refer to our Child Arrangements page for further information.

For co-habiting or unmarried couples, the starting point is that property or assets are owned fully by the legal owner. This means that the presumption is that if you are the sole registered owner of a home or vehicle, for example, you own that property and its value in full.

However, you may have previously agreed that the benefit of the property should be different from the legal ownership. In certain cases a trust may be formed which gives the non-owner rights to some or all of the value.

When considering your entitlement to any assets, a number of factors must be considered:

• Who has legal ownership?
• Is there any written evidence that establishes a different beneficial interest?
• Has there been any verbal or implied agreement that establishes a different beneficial interest?
• What did each party contribute?
• Has either party suffered financially as a result of reliance on discussions or agreements?
• Have you even been engaged to be married?

If you are considering separation or have already separated, we will discuss your individual circumstances and advise you accordingly.


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The Next Steps

We recommend that in the first instance you attend our initial fixed fee appointment when we can discuss your options in full.

To contact us, please:

Call us on 01442 218090

Send an email to

Fill out our enquiry form and speak to one of our Family Team today


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Working with a family business

Hepburn Delaney was established in 2013 by Jane Hepburn and Rebecca Delaney who had worked together for several years before deciding to set up a specialist family law practice. Our intention has always been to provide a niche, bespoke service to clients seeking advice on a broad range of family matters and we remain committed to this approach.


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