Legal Services & Advice For Unmarried Couples

Richard Nelson LLP’s family lawyers offer unmarried couples in-depth legal advice, and have experience in all aspects of beginning and ending relationships. An increasing number of families are having children and/or owning property without marrying. Whilst perhaps having the most flexible relationship, these families can struggle with unexpected complications if things become difficult. Expert legal assistance is essential for almost everybody as the law here is strict and, unlike divorce, is not focused on a fair outcome.


Child arrangements for unmarried couples

For most families, being married or unmarried does not have a significant impact on child arrangements (what used to be called child custody). If not named on the birth certificate, unmarried fathers may have to seek Parental Responsibility from the court. The remaining aspects of child arrangements are identical to those of married parents.

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Financial claims for childcare

Unmarried parents can make a claim for financial assistance for the benefit of children in two ways, Child Maintenance or the Children Act (Schedule One).

Unless one of the parents earns in excess of £156,000, Child maintenance is the responsibility of the Child Maintenance Service who calculate and (if necessary) collect regular child maintenance. There is a helpful calculator on the government website which also sets out the rules. For those families where a parent earns more than £156,000, if the parents cannot agree about child maintenance the court can determine the liability.

The Children Act has a provision which is often overlooked, which enables a parent who is providing a home for the children to oblige the other parent to provide a housing fund and, perhaps, a carer’s allowance. The parent making the claim (usually the mother) needs to show she is unable to otherwise provide for the child(ren) and the other parent would have to have assets they do not ‘need’.

If successful, the financial provision would only last for the duration of the child(ren)’s minority but for that period could be a life-changing opportunity enabling the children to have a secure home. The procedure is similar to an application for a financial order upon divorce, which is set out on our financial settlements page.

Unmarried co-ownership of property

The law of joint ownership is the law of trusts; in some circumstances it is crystal clear how the property is owned (fair or not) but in many cases it is fiendishly complex. Richard Nelson’s family lawyers are experts in this and can explain how the party’s intentions can establish or change the ownership of property. There are express trusts, resulting trusts, constructive trusts and we know how each of these could apply to joint ownership. Whether the property was purchased by one or both, the true ownership depends on the facts and our solicitors have experience guiding clients through this complex and often confusing law.

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How Richard Nelson LLP Can help unmarried couples

Our family solicitors are able to assist with every aspect of unmarried couples and separation, including:

  • Explaining co-ownership of property and advising about joint property purchases;
  • Arrangements for children, where they live and spend their time and financial provision;
  • Preventing disputes with living together agreements and deeds of trust;
  • Prepare letters before action and settlement agreements;
  • Advise and assist in mediation, arbitration and/or court proceedings.

Whether you are an unmarried couple that’s separating, or are simply seeking advice and peace of mind, there are various steps that can be taken to protect your relationship with your children and your financial welfare; we would be happy to assist. Get in touch via our contact form to arrange your initial discussion.

Specialist solicitors

Our multidisciplinary team is made up of specialists in a wide range of services, which means you'll always be represented by an expert in your area.

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Get in touch to arrange a no-obligation, fully confidential call to discuss your case and work out if you want to continue.

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Speak to solicitors in one of our offices throughout England and Wales, or arrange calls and remote meetings.


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Speak to a family law solicitor about legal services for unmarried couples

Use the form on the right to get in touch with our team and arrange an initial call to discuss your situation. We will use this no-obligation, fully confidential initial call to learn more about your case and help you understand your options going forward.

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