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Family Law

Separation For Cohabiting Same-Sex Couples

If you are ending a relationship that has not been formalised by marriage or civil partnership, you could face some challenging legal pitfalls.

Separation For Cohabiting Same-Sex Couples

Navigating Separation: Cohabiting Same-Sex Couples

Separation is a challenging journey, and for cohabiting same-sex couples, it comes with its unique set of complexities. Whether you are ending a long-term relationship or have decided to take different paths, navigating separation requires careful consideration and open communication.

According to the Office for National Statistics the proportion of people who live in a couple that are cohabiting (not in a marriage or civil partnership) has increased from 20.6% in 2011 to 24.3% in 2021, an increase across all age groups aged under 85 years - for same-sex couples the figure in 2021 was 476,000 people.

Couples who live together do not yet enjoy the same legal protection as those who are married. That is true for heterosexual and same-sex couples.

Many people assume wrongly that they have ‘common law marriage rights’ if they have cohabited for a certain period of time. This is a legal myth (although there is increasing pressure to change the law).

In the case of same-sex couples, only those who are married or in a civil partnership have certain rights relating to matters such as:

  • children arrangements and adoption
  • finances, debts, banking, possessions and inheritance
  • property disputes.

Separation Agreement

Financial settlements, a common avenue for married couples, are not applicable to cohabiting couples. In the absence of court-approved financial settlements, cohabiting couples can navigate the complexities of separation through a well-crafted Separation Agreement.

A Separation Agreement is a comprehensive document outlining financial arrangements and responsibilities, akin to a contract. It covers not only financial aspects but also delineates agreements related to children.

While a Separation Agreement is not court-approved, it holds legal weight as a deed. Like a contract, it creates binding legal obligations. If necessary, these obligations can be challenged in a court setting, ensuring a level of protection for both parties.

Children

When a same sex couple separate it can raise some unique additional questions regarding the arrangements for children. A person’s legal rights will differ depending if the children were adopted, born through surrogacy or sperm donation or if one partner had a child from a previous relationship.

Depending on the circumstances, establishing the basic legal position with regard to parentage may be the first step.

A child’s birth mother is always their legal mother but other people may be also be able to gain the legal right to be recognised as a parent. The law in this area can be complex so it is best to seek specialist advice at an early stage.

If you are ending a relationship that has not been formalised by marriage or civil partnership then you could face some challenging legal pitfalls. Our LGBT specialist solicitors can help you to avoid problems or resolve issues.

Further Reading

Book A Free Chat With Our LGBT Solicitors.

Book a free phone chat or fixed fee meeting – or contact Family Law Solicitor Anna Burton for more information, 01202 338800.

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