Cohabitation – the unmarried family

One of the leading family departments in the country.

The Legal 500
Family Law Services at Penningtons Manches

There is a common misconception that people who live together without getting married eventually acquire legal rights in relation to each other, similar to those enjoyed by married couples. There is, however, no such thing as “common law marriage” in England and, if cohabitants wish to make a financial claim on relationship breakdown, they must rely on a “hotchpotch” of legal rules.

At Penningtons Manches, we thoroughly understand the legal issues facing clients on the breakdown of a relationship if they are neither married nor in a civil partnership. Our family team has considerable expertise in this complex area of law, having been involved in some of the leading cases, and offers high-quality advice in a sensitive and client-focused way.

If your cohabiting relationship has broken down, we can advise and guide you through all issues including claims for financial provision for children under Schedule 1 Children Act 1989 (for housing, other capital payments for your child and the payment of school fees and maintenance); and the different procedural and cost rules for cohabitants making claims under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TLATA).

Members of our team, who are based in our offices in London, Oxford, Reading and Guildford, have acted in a number of leading cases involving cohabitants including the successful claimant in the widely reported cohabitation case of Cox v Jones and for the mothers in the cases of Re: C (A Child: Financial Provision) and El Gamal v Al Maktoum.

We have considerable experience in drawing up cohabitation agreements for clients who wish to set out their arrangements for the future including provision for the division of property and other assets in the event of a separation. We also advise on child support and all other financial claims.

We offer expert advice on:

  • cohabitation agreements
  • property ownership on separation
  • claims under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (“TLATA”)
  • financial claims under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989
  • paternity disputes and other child-related issues
  • financial claims on death of a cohabitant

Recent work highlights

Financial settlement for mother

Acting for a mother in the negotiation of a financial settlement from her former partner, a well-known entertainer, which included provision for housing, school fees and ongoing child support.


Provision for long term partner

Acting for a client following the death of her long term partner, a prominent City figure with homes in Belgravia, the Caribbean and the US, who had neglected to make proper provision for her in his will.


Financial provision for child

Negotiating a settlement for financial provision for a child alongside the mother’s application for an interest in the family home, the registered title of which was in the sole name of her former partner.

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Penningtons Manches LLP

Penningtons Manches LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. San Francisco is an associated office.

Penningtons Manches LLP