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Regardless of the growing number of unmarried couples in England and Wales, unmarried couples still have very little protection and legal rights under English law.

Nowadays, many couples don’t view marriage as a necessity and live together without getting married. Couples might have shared bank accounts, bills, and properties, but in the eyes of the law, unmarried couples are just two unrelated individuals.

At DMA Law, we sometimes find that our clients mistakenly think that their rights are protected under “common law,’’ but the belief of common law marriage is a myth – when a relationship breaks down, unmarried couples have very little financial rights.

In a series of blogs, we are going to look at the most important topics of a relationship breakdown, starting with your property rights when ending a relationship:

Can I keep the family home? What am I entitled to?

The decision of who will end up with the ownership of your shared home depends on a few things. Firstly, is the property owned in joint names? Or is it owned as tenants in common? Is it owned by one individual?

If the property is owned in joint names, then usually the property is divided equally, and one party will usually buy out the other party’s share.

If the property is owned in common, then the property is usually divided depending on the share of ownership as specified in the Declaration of Trust.

If your family home is owned in the sole name of one party, then the property is legally theirs. In some cases, though, where the other partner has helped with a financial contribution, they can claim.

In a dispute, a court looks at what financial contributions each party has made and might also consider an agreement that you were to have an interest in the property if you can show proof.

Under the Schedule 1 of the Children Act, even if a party has made no contribution to the family home, they may still be entitled to receive financial assistance in terms of the provision of a home if they have a minor child living with them.

Cases where one side believes that they should have a share or more share to a property, can sadly be lengthy and confusing, but our family law team can assist you every step of the process. We will advise you and try our best to achieve the best option for you.