The situation that the woman in this piece finds herself in is frightening, but sadly not all that unusual. 

Many couples believe that living together gives them similar legal rights and obligations to married couples in the event that the relationship breaks down. This is often referred to as 'common law marriage'. 

Unfortunately, the reality is that there is no such thing as 'common law marriage' in English law and that cohabitees have far fewer rights and protections than spouses. 

You will be entitled to monthly child maintenance payments if your children are going to spend the majority of the time living with you and your former partner is able to pay. If your former partner has capital wealth, you may also be entitled to a share of it if you can show that you need it to ensure that your children are properly provided for. Where you and/or your former partner own a property, what share of it you are entitled to will depend on how it is owned, and possibly also how it was paid for and what contributions you have each made, and this can be complex to resolve. 

If you are living with a partner and you are worried that the relationship may be ending, or if you have recently separated, it is important to take legal advice and find out where you stand.