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Advice on common law break up?

(4 Posts)
norfolksungirl Thu 11-Sep-08 08:48:41

I am looking for some advice for my friend. Her partner (not married) and her are having problems to the point that it looks like they may split. They have been together 9 years and have 3 kids aged 5,3 and 1. She is concerned about what her rights are if they split up as he is telling her all sorts of things that may not be true.

Kids: She does not work. Will she automatically be entitled to have the children? Her partner is saying not and that he will not let her take the children away and that he will give up work to look after them. She is petrified she may lose her children.

The house: Is there a general rule as to what each partner is entitled to on a common law break? They have a house together - I don't think they have a mortgage. Can he be forced to move out and leave her and the kids in the house - he says he won't do it. Might they be forced to sell the house and then is it half and half or do they get back exactly what they put into it?

Where can she go for some advice? She lives in Essex so does anyone know a good solicitor? I think she should get some advice now in case things do get nasty.

wannaBe Thu 11-Sep-08 09:04:11

well firstly, there is no such thing as common law marriage. They are only partners, and if the relationship ends they are entitled to take out what they put in, so no splitting everything in half as would be in the case of a divorce.

If he put 80% and she put 20% of the money into the house, then that is what they will get if the house is sold.

WRT the children, the resident parent would of course be entitled to maintanence. If he wants custody of the children then he would need to go to court and they would decide who the children would be best off with. Usually the children would stay with the parent who has been the main carer but obviously it is ultimately for the courts to decide if they cannot reach this decision amicably.

She can't force him to move out of the house though. Equally he can't force her to move out.

Freckle Thu 11-Sep-08 09:28:58

As there will be no divorce proceedings, one of the parents will have to apply to the court for a residence order. As a general rule, the courts will err in favour of the primary carer, which sounds like your friend. They will not be impressed at the dad giving up work in order to have the children as he will then be dependent upon the state and will not be able to support the children himself.

Do they own the house jointly and in equal shares? If so, they will each be entitle to 50% of any equity. She will not be entitled to more in order to rehouse herself and the children.

She could go to her local CAB for some initial advice.

mumblechum Thu 11-Sep-08 12:07:09

She should consider making an application under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 for an order that she & the children remain in the house until the youngest one is 18. If successful, the court can order the father to pay some of the outgoings as well as child maintenance.

If he wants residence of the children, he'll have to apply for it. Given the children's ages, it's possible he doesn't have parental responsibility so he may apply for that even if he doesn't go for residence.

Your friend can find a specialist family lawyer on

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