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Cohabitation

Statistically more people are now living together than are marrying, so it is more important than ever to know where you stand if difficulties arise in the relationship.

Unfortunately, cases involving cohabitees can be complicated, with significant issues arising around each party’s financial contribution during the relationship and the fair distribution of assets.

There is no such thing as a common law husband or wife even when you have been together many years. You will need expert guidance through what is a complex area of law.

Starting your relationship

If you purchase a property together, it will probably be the single biggest asset that you own. As such, it is important to determine whose name the property will be in, the value of each party’s contribution and how this is reflected.

You may wish to consider entering into a Cohabitation Agreement. This is a legal document which sets out the financial arrangements of your relationship and can be as detailed or as straightforward as you wish.

During your relationship

You should consider how your property is owned and what you would like to happen with your assets should one of you pass away. There is no automatic entitlement to your partner’s pension or death in service benefits. There is no automatic provision for maintenance between parties. The longer your relationship, the more these matters need to be addressed. There have been many high-profile situations when following the death of a cohabitee, the survivor found themselves in a very vulnerable financial position.

Furthermore, what should you do if you want to invest Capital maybe from a previous settlement or Inheritance? We can advise you on the options available to you across our business, including property purchases, the relationship itself, your Will and estate planning.

Ending the relationship

Sadly, if the relationship comes to an end you may want to consider a Deed of Separation that sets out the financial decisions you are about to make and provides evidence if they come under attack in the future. A Deed of Separation will also deal with any Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) or Land Transaction Tax (LLT) implications helping you to avoid a huge tax bill.

Speak to our experts

For a FREE initial consultation with our expert Family Lawyers, simply complete the form on this page, call 01244 356 789 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk.

Why choose us for your Cohabitation matter? Because we are:

Experienced

Our team has in excess of 90 years’ experience of helping, supporting and advising clients, achieving the best possible solutions for them and their children.

Specialists

Members of our team are trained collaborative lawyers and mediators. This specialist knowledge enables us to deal with your family issue in a sensitive, constructive and cost-efficient way.

Understanding

We understand the emotional turmoil and distress that separation and divorce can create. Our promise to you is that we will be by your side, supporting you at every stage, assisting, advising and providing solutions for you and your family.

Who will work on your Cohabitation matter?

A fully qualified lawyer. Your matter will either be handled or supervised by a solicitor with at least 20 years’ experience in this area of work.

Some areas of work may be supported by our Paralegal team.

Administrative duties will be undertaken by our support staff.

As Head of Department, Brenda Spain has overall responsibility for the supervision of all work carried out by her team.

Our Family Law Department

Brenda Spain

Brenda Spain

Head of Family Law
Family Law and Litigation Teams
Qualified 1987
Additional Qualifications: Member of Law Society Family Law Panel, Qualified Mediator
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Hello, I joined Cullimore Dutton in 2019 to take up the position as Head of the Family Law team.

I have been qualified for over 30 years having previously practiced in Worcestershire in a tier one Family Law team. I have considerable experience of dealing with all aspects of family disputes, with particular expertise in:

  • Divorce/separation and finances; particularly those cases involving Businesses, Pensions (NHS, Police, Armed Forces), Farms and Inheritance etc
  • Private children disputes including internal and international relocation
  • Cohabitation disputes
  • Pre and post nuptial agreements
  • Civil partnership disputes
  • Domestic abuse cases

I am also a qualified mediator, a member of the Law Society Family Panel and a member of Resolution.

I appreciate that relationship breakdowns can be a very difficult and overwhelming experience for many. This is where strong support, guidance and understanding is required.

I work extremely hard for clients to resolve matters in a clear, down to earth, professional and approachable way. I am always prepared to go that extra mile to help our clients achieve the best outcome for them and their children whether through the negotiation process or the Court process if Court Proceedings become necessary.

I was recently appointed as Cullimore Dutton’s Training Principal and am delighted to be able to mentor and support colleagues who are entering the legal profession.

I am proud to head a team of very talented lawyers, aspiring lawyers and assistants.

Away from work I enjoy spending time with family and friends and being outdoors with my Labradors. I enjoy sports, music and getting involved in charitable events and good causes.

Fran Crank

Francesca Crank

Trainee Solicitor
Family Law Team
Contact

I joined the Family Law team as a Legal Assistant in January 2021 having previously worked as a Paralegal at a Stockport based solicitors’ practise and was I delighted to take on the role of Trainee Solicitor in February 2022. 

I graduated from the University of Manchester in 2018 with a degree in Law with Criminology before completing the Legal Practice Course (LPC) with Masters at the University of Law in Chester in 2019, achieving a Distinction. 

I have always been passionate about Family Law and was delighted to have the opportunity to work with such an experienced team here at Cullimore Dutton. I look forward to developing my knowledge further within this team as my career progresses. 

In my spare time I enjoy running, horse riding and socialising with friends. 

Susan Alexander

Susan Alexander

Consultant Solicitor
Family Law Team
Qualified 1981 (Scotland), 1994 (England & Wales)
Additional Qualifications: Collaborative law practitioner, Child inclusive mediator, FMCA accredited mediator
Contact

Hello. I joined the firm as a Consultant Solicitor and Family Mediator in May 2016. I am an accredited family law specialist with over 35 years of experience as a family lawyer dealing with all aspects of Family Law, including divorce, separation, children and financial issues, cohabitation disputes and preparation of pre-nuptial agreements and cohabitation deeds.  

I am a fully accredited Family Mediator and provide Child Inclusive Mediation. I practise collaborative law where couples sit round the table with specially trained lawyers to help them reach solutions which are best for them and their children. I promote the benefits to separating couples and their children of having a dialogue together in a safe and supported environment to make decisions that need to be made about money and property and child care arrangements.  

Divorce is not easy nor is it easy to sit down together and talk about how assets should be shared or how child arrangements should be worked out when emotions are running high. Using Family Mediation and Collaborative Law usually means that agreements are reached more quickly and the uncertainty (and costs) of court proceedings are avoided.  

I am an experienced litigator in cases that cannot be resolved by mediation or collaborative law. I take pride in being thought of as an efficient, hardworking yet approachable and supportive solicitor who helps people through a very difficult time. 

My expertise is in: 

  • Family Mediation including child inclusive mediation  
  • Collaborative family law 
  • All aspects of divorce and separation including financial and children issues 
  • Pre and post nuptial agreements 
  • Cohabitation agreements  
  • Cohabitee disputes 
  • Resolution accredited Family Law specialist  

Away from my desk I like to go to the gym and the lawyer’s fit club, I play bridge and I sing in the Rock Choir. I love socialising with my friends and family. I am also involved in organising events for charity. 

Eluned Roberts

Eluned Roberts

Associate Solicitor
Family Law Team
Qualified 2011
Additional Qualifications: Collaborative law practitioner
Contact

Hello. I joined the Cullimore Dutton’s family Law team in February 2022 as an Associate Solicitor and Collaborative Family Lawyer. I have over 10 years’ experience in the field of family law and deal with all aspects of private family law.

I gained a wealth of experience in dealing with children law cases early on in my career, which has given me the expertise to advise families on all aspects of children law, including child arrangements, specific issue orders, prohibited steps orders, parental responsibility, adoption and special guardianship orders.

I also specialise in advising clients in relation to divorce, civil partnership dissolution and cohabitation disputes together with negotiating on complex financial settlements. I am also able to advise on pre-nuptial agreements and cohabitation agreements.

I am a committed member of Resolution, seeking to resolve family disputes in a constructive manner. I approach cases with a sensitive, friendly and pragmatic manner and strive to ensure that a client’s case is dealt with proportionately and cost-effectively. I am a qualified collaborative lawyer. I truly believe that the process can offer clients a ‘better way’ for separating families to make decisions whilst giving the opportunity to remain amicable. This can help retain a positive co-parenting relationship as well as help to maintain other relationships, extended families or mutual friends. It also allows families to negotiate at their own pace and avoid the cost and acrimony that court proceedings can cause.

Where court proceedings are unavoidable, I am an experienced and efficient litigator with technical knowledge of the law and procedural rules. My sensitive, calm manner and hard-working ethics allow me to support clients through their court case and provide assurance and straight-forward legal advice at every step of the way.

I have previously worked in firms in North Wales, Knutsford and a reputable Legal500 firm in Manchester. Having grown up in North Wales and lived in Chester for a number of years, I am excited to have the opportunity to provide advice and support to local families as well as those further afield who are in need of sensible and expert advice on family law matters.

My expertise is in:
• Child arrangements, including adoption and special guardianship
• All aspects of divorce and separation including complex financial negotiations
• Pre and post nuptial agreements
• Cohabitation agreements
• Cohabitee disputes
• Collaborative family law

Away from work, I enjoy playing hockey, spending time with my family, going on caravan holidays, baking with my children and walking my golden retriever in the Cheshire countryside.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your help over what has been a very troubling time for me. Your professionalism and support have been very reassuring from start to finish.

Cullimore Dutton Family Law client

I had a call with Brenda yesterday and I would like to write a review because she was really amazing and gave me some very sound advice. Brenda’s professional and personable approach put me at ease, and she quickly understood the issues pertinent to my case. It is clear that she has extensive experience, and I am very grateful for her sage advice. If you need family legal advice I would highly recommend speaking to Brenda or one of her team who will be able to help.

Cullimore Dutton Family Law client