I am not married but want to leave my partner. What is involved and will I have to go to Court?

There is no specific legal process required to end a cohabiting relationship. There are also no specific rights or remedies when it comes to dividing your finances. There is no right to maintenance for either spouse. If you own your home jointly or the home is owned under the sole name of your partner, you can apply to the Court under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA) to either force the sale of the home or ask the Court to decide what percentage of the home each of you own. If you take this route, both you and your partner will attend Court. This can be very complicated and costly. If you wish to split any other assets, this is usually done through negotiation and agreement, which a solicitor will help you with. If you wish to avoid Court and believe you can come to an agreement with your partner (using either negotiation through solicitors or mediation), you may record this agreement in a deed of separation. You will need to have received independent legal advice on the terms and consequences of the deed and each party must disclose their relevant financial details. The deed is a contract between the parties and can be enforced using contract law. If the deed states that it is in full and final settlement, you and your partner relinquish any future claims on the other’s assets.

With regard to any children of the relationship, both parties have a duty to maintain the child. You can apply to the Child Support Agency for your partner to pay child support. Either you or your partner can apply to the Court for a contact or residence order at any time. If you do apply for an order, you and your partner will have to attend Court. If you can agree contact arrangements between yourselves, the Court does not have to be involved.

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