It is quite apparent that marriage is on the decline. Many couples simply cohabit instead. Increasing numbers of people need help and advice in connection with cohabitation disputes rather than marriage disputes.
What many cohabiting couples do not realise is that cohabitation does not create a legal, binding relationship in the same way that marriage does.
Even in the modern age of human rights, when divorce reform is meant to be on the agenda and civil partnerships have been introduced, cohabiting couples still do not have the same level of protection that is enjoyed by their married counterparts-there is no such thing as “a common law marriage!”.
Some people may have had the foresight to enter into a cohabitation agreement. Others will have economic independence and will be able to weather any results and financial storms.
However, most people are not in such favourable positions.
One very good option for disputing cohabiting couples is to go to mediation – In practice mediation gives the parties the flexibility to reach a mutually binding an acceptable agreement that could not otherwise be achieved – not only will they save a lot of money by going to mediation but they could achieve a great deal more.
Paul Sandford is an accredited civil mediator, family mediator and Tribunal Judge
He mediates for a leading UK charity, has been appointed a governor/mediator at a London Secondary School and has the benefit of having worked as a solicitor for around 25 years. He has also worked as a trainer and university lecturer and has considerable experience of working with people who are disabled or who do not have English as a first language.
As well as being Regents University accredited, Paul recently completed ADRg civil/commercial and family training and is working towards becoming an accredited family mediator.
He has particular knowledge and experience of housing, property/commercial, medical and public law issues and employment, workplace, family and educational disputes. He is a member of two mediation panels: Clerksroom, which has excellent conference call facilities, and the Business Mediation Group. In his spare time Paul enjoys cooking, football, test cricket and listening to the blues, and fundraises for his school.