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Cohabitation Law, Family Law Specialist Cara Nuttall discusses Johnny Depp & Vanessa Paradis

There are reports in the press recently that following confirmation of their separation, Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis have provisionally agreed a division of their assets, which would see Paradis receive £100million. Despite being together for around 14 years, they never married. As a result, some newspapers are describing the settlement as the "biggest pay-out/settlement" given to an unmarried partner of a Cohabiting couple.

Many people in England are aware that married and unmarried couples have different legal rights in regard to assets when they separate, but few realise just how different they can be. Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as common law marriage and living together (Cohabitation) does not create additional rights to a pay-out if a relationship ends. This can have very harsh results, depending how a couple have ordered their finances during the relationship, and it is possible for a Cohabitant to walk away from a lengthy relationship with nothing.   

There are ways to ensure that a cohabitant's position is protected, at least as far as possible, such as ensuring properties are registered in joint names and where necessary, shares clearly set out. Due to the complexity of the law in this area, and the harsh consequences it can have, people who are unsure of their legal position are always well-advised to seek legal advice to ensure they know where they stand should the worst happen and if necessary, take steps to safeguard their situation.

To find out more about Cohabitation and your rights please see our Cohabitation and the law page

A Living Together Agreement is a legal service which we offer, which sets out your legal rights when Cohabiting with another person whether this is a partner, friend or another individual. To find out more please read our guide to living together and home ownership