Financial Rights of Unmarried Couples

There is no such thing as a “common law” spouse. However, protection for unmarried partners does exist.

In some cases, separated couples can make a claim against property under the  Trusts of Land and Appointed Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA).

For advice in relation to a potential property claim against a former partner, please contact a member of our real estate litigation team.


Financial claims for unmarried couples with children

Unmarried people who have dependent children have significant potential financial claims under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989. This can include:

  • Financial claims for housing: usually housing is provided for the duration of the child’s minority.
  • Lump-sum orders: to fund capital needs, such as for the purchase of furniture, contents, motor vehicles or removal costs. Repeat applications for lump-sum payments can be made.
  • School fees orders: the court can order one parent to pay for school fees.
  • Legal services orders - the court has the power to order a parent to pay the legal fees of the applicant parent.
  • Child Maintenance - this would usually be dealt with via the Child Maintenance Service save in limited circumstances

Child Maintenance

To work out how much child maintenance is payable, please refer to the child maintenance calculator.

In most cases, child maintenance will be dealt with by parental agreement, or in default, after an assessment is carried out by the Child Maintenance Service. 

The court retains jurisdiction to make child maintenance orders in the following limited circumstances:

  • Where the payer lives or works overseas
  • For expenses in relation to a disability
  • School fees
  • For expenses in relation to continuing education at university in some circumstances
  • When the payer earns in excess of £156,000 gross per annum, the payee can apply for a “top-up” child maintenance order once a maximum child maintenance assessment has been put in place by the Child Maintenance Service.

Financial Support For Unmarried Parents Videos

Meet Our Specialists

Home-grown or recruited from national, regional or City firms. Our specialists are experts in their fields and respected by their peers.

Jane Tenquist

Jane Tenquist

Jane is a Partner and Head of the Family Law Team

Nichola Bright

Nichola Bright

Nichola is a Senior Associate in our Family Law Team

Sarah Whitelegge

Sarah Whitelegge

Sarah is a Senior Associate in our Family Law Team

Rachel Forster

Rachel Forster

Rachel is a Solicitor in our Family Law Team


Contact Us

You can contact a member of our team using the contact form below or by phoning us on


Latest news & Insights

Keep up-to-date with the latest legal news and our expert opinion.