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Unmarried Couples Home Page:

What happens when you separate?

The law on unmarried couples is quite different to the law on married couples. I won't go into whether or not this is right or fair - it is the reality that you have to deal with if you are not married.

The basic rule is that you are treated in a similar way to if two flatmates decided they were going to move out - so that starting point is basically that you take out of the situation what you brought into it. Where things get complicated is where people have bought things jointly along the way. We've tried to deal with what happens here in our Finance and Joint Property page

Finances and Joint Property

Whilst you are basically treated as if you were flatmates now moving apart, it's worth setting out how certain things might be dealt with - for example if you have contributed to the mortgage, to an extension at the property and so on.

We have pulled together some of the situations we have encountered and set out how the law views them.

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Common law wife or husband?

There's no such thing! -except in the gossip press. You might see talk in the press about a common-law husband or wife but in English law this concept is not recognised.

Rightly or wrongly, in the eyes of the law you get no additional status no matter how long you have been together as a couple.

Child Contact and Residence Orders

The rules on children are very similar to if you were married but it's worth going through them. We've set out the rules that affect the children in plain english.

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Same sex couples

The law on same-sex couples changed in 2011 and allowed same-sexour to have a 'civil ceremony' - in the eyes of the law this is treated the same as marriage.

We have prepared a section on the break up of same sex civil ceremonies.

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