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For whatever reason, so many unmarried couples believe the myth of the “common-law wife”, and are surprised to find out that they are entitled to very little when they split up from their long term partners.

How many times have I heard a partner say, ” I will be ok, I am a common law wife, and will get half the house, anyway I have got kids, the courts won’t make me homeless”.

Let us get one thing straight, there is no such thing as a common law wife and the court will treat you as if you were two strangers unless you are on the deeds of the property or have a cohabitation agreement in place which will act as a binding contract between you.

The situation is different if you have kids, as the court can order you stay in a property until they have left home, and then you will be asked to leave, often without any compensation.

You will not be able to claim maintenance for yourself and you will not be able to get any of his pension, so compared to your married friends, you are in a very bad situation.

The answer is cohabitation agreements. You can do this before you move in together and during the cohabitation.

If you have kids, that might be a good time to have one drawn up. At least then you have an agreed contract which is enforceable in a court.

With legal aid having been withdrawn for family law, you are not going to be able to afford to take your ex-partner to court without one, unless you are brave enough to do it yourself or can get a lawyer to do it on the cheap.

A cohabitation agreement does not have to cost thousands of pounds, and you can do them online with minimal effort for just £199.00 including VAT.

This post was written by Mark Keenan. Editor of the Divorce Online Blog and Managing Director of Online Legal Service Ltd. Mark has been writing about divorce and related subjects for over 20+ years and is an expert in legal marketing.

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