Unmarried Couples: Your Rights on Separation

Unless there is a property or other asset held in joint names, then the starting point is that you have no claims against anything owned by the other party.  Nor is there any obligation on one partner from a cohabiting relationship to provide maintenance to the other, although if there are children then all claims for child maintenance remain unaffected.

If there is a jointly owned property then usually the property is sold by agreement and the net sale proceeds divided in accordance with the shares in which it is owned. 

What are my rights if I leave the property?

If you are a joint owner of your home, that remains the position whether or not you live there and your claims both to return to occupy and to the equity in the property remain. However, there are a number of things to consider in advance of moving out:

  • Who is going to pay the mortgage? If a mortgage falls into arrears it may impact on your credit rating and it may prevent a mortgage lender consenting to the transfer of the mortgage.
  • If you have children and hold parental responsibility for that child, you can move out but if you take your children with you this could lead to an urgent court application by the remaining parent for their return; so this is something that needs to be considered carefully before you take such a step.
  • Why are you leaving the property? If you have concerns about your safety or that of your children you should take advice about applying to the court for an Occupation Order that may exclude your ex partner from the property until a longer term solution can be agreed.

What are my rights if not named as an owner of the property?

If there is no agreement as to the shares in which a property is held or the property is held in only one name but you have a claim against the property, then an application may need to be made to the court for a declaration as to how the property is owned and whether it is to be sold.


If there are children of the relationship then child maintenance will in the first instance be in accordance with the Child Maintenance Service Calculations.  You can agree to pay child maintenance by way of a private arrangement but either one of you can at any point in the future ask the CMS to deal with the calculation, collection and payment of child maintenance.

The courts retain the ability to make some additional orders beyond child maintenance strictly for the purposes of making some financial provision for any child of the relationship. These orders are dependent on the financial circumstances of each parent but can include such orders as requiring one party to pay a capital sum (which is to be repaid at a later date) to meet the housing need of the other.

Initial Fixed Fee Consultation

Come and talk to us. You’ll find us empathetic, keen to help and with a wealth of experience. We offer a fixed fee consultation of £120 for the first appointment. You will be advised on the options open to you and the possible outcomes. Our priority is to ensure that you have a clear understanding of the path ahead and the challenges involved in achieving your goals.

Disclaimer: This guide contains general information only and does not constitute legal advice.  You need to consult a suitably qualified lawyer from the firm on any specific legal issue.