If you live together but are not married, then, unfortunately, you do not have the same legal rights as a married couple when the relationship breaks down.
The property is solely in your partner’s name
If the property is not in your name, then you have no legal right to a share of that property. It belongs solely to the person whose name it is registered under.
The only exception is if you have evidence that you both agreed to have some rights to the property – known as common intention. However, this is a complex area, and it would be prudent to seek legal advice in this circumstance.
The property is in joint names
If a property is in joint names, then you are both entitled to an equal share, unless a legal document exists that states otherwise.
Firstly, you will need to check your tenancy agreement to see who is named. If the tenancy is in your sole name, then you have the right to remain in the property, but you are also solely responsible for making sure the rent is paid.
If you are joint tenants and both wish to leave you may be able to ‘give notice’ to your landlord or letting agency. Depending on what your agreement states you may also be able to negotiate with the landlord so that one of you can continue to rent the property alone.
Where the tenancy agreement is in your partner’s name, they are solely responsible for the rent payments. However, if you are married or in a civil partnership, you do have rights to continue living in the property. Be aware, that these rights will cease once the marriage or civil partnership ends, so you will need to have made alternative living arrangements by then.
You may also have the right to take over the tenancy from your partner, this does depend on legislation where you live and the type of tenancy agreement in place.
If you have children together
You may be able to make financial claims on behalf of the children. This could mean that you remain in the home with them while they are dependent, regardless of who owns the property.
The court can also issue an order for one parent to provide a home for the other parent and the children to live in while they remain dependent if finances allow.
It is worth noting that the father will only have parental responsibility if he is registered as the father on the birth certificate after 1 December 2003. Otherwise, he needs the formal written agreement of the mother or an order from the court.
One parent cannot leave the country with the children without permission from either the other parent or the court.
Your partner dies without a will
If you are not married, then you are not automatically entitled to any of your partner’s estate. The only exception is if you owned property jointly, then you would automatically inherit this.
However, if you are ‘beneficial tenants in common’, then your partner’s half of the property would go to his next of kin. This may mean that you have to sell the property to pay your partner’s family their share.
You may be able to make a claim against your partner’s estate if you are left financially bereft. However, it is a complicated process, and you will need to prove that you lived together for two years before their death and that you were either partly or entirely financially dependent on them.
It is vital to make a will if you are cohabiting with your partner.