Financial Claims in Cohabitation Relationship Breakdown

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Cohabitation doesn’t mean common law spouse.

There’s a common misconception that cohabitation gives people legal rights, like for example, becoming a common-law wife. This is not the case. English Law has no such concept.

While the issues that arise when a cohabiting couple break up are the same as those on marriage or civil partnership breakdown, the law does not provide the same remedies. Former cohabitants cannot claim maintenance from each other for themselves. Nor are they entitled to claim against the other’s pension rights or ask for a financial settlement under which assets can be transferred between them. Cohabitants have to fall back on either a mixture of trust and property law or statutes to resolve disputes between them over property. This is complicated and unsatisfactory

Should cohabitation problems use Civil or Family Mediation?

While divorce and civil partnership dissolution are dealt with only in the family courts, cohabitant claims are dealt with in either the family or civil courts. It depends on the nature of the claim. This sometimes makes it difficult to know what type of mediator to appoint: one trained in civil and commercial mediation, or a family mediator?

Happily, at Start Mediation, we have a solution. We have a non-practising solicitor who has trained in civil and commercial mediation and in family mediation. This allows him to create a hybrid of the two processes if needed. This can be anything from one or more two hour joint sessions with no lawyers present, to a single all-day session with supporting lawyers … and everything in between.

The value of legal advice in cohabitation breakdowns.

If you believe you have a claim for property or housing against a former cohabitant, you might want to get sound legal advice from a lawyer before starting mediation.

If you have no claim, it might be difficult to persuade the other person that there would be any benefit to mediation.

On the other hand, if you have a potential claim,  the other person might see that it’s their interests to mediate instead of leaving things up to a judge.

At Start Mediation we have a saying ...

… if the courts were predictable, why would anyone need them. On the other hand, if the courts are unpredictable, why would anyone risk using them.

Mediaton offers an alternative to the expense and uncertainty of the courts. By choosing cohabitation mediation, you will stay in control of the outcome and you are almost guaranteed to reach it more quickly and less expensively than by using the other routes.

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