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SOS Brighton Makeover: Liz's journey……

Liz is taking part in the “SOS Brighton Divorce Makeover”. This means she will benefit from some free advice and inspiration from a selection of our SOS exhibitors who have generously donated their time to show what options and choices are available to someone going through divorce or relationship breakup.

Liz was not legally married to her partner – they were in a long term living together relationship – and now she discovers how few legal rights exist to protect her and that ‘common law marriage’ is a myth.

The story begins with Liz telling us about her situation and her search for a positive way forwards……


Early November 2009

“My partner and I are NOT married. We have 3 daughters aged 5,8 & 10. We have been together 17 years and we own property together.

I have been caring for the children for the past 10 years. I gave up my PR career and have been receiving little income £400 a month to live off whilst together for a few years.

Relationship broke down after he had affair with x-school friend. Tried to repair relationship. Love, Trust, Respect had gone. He became aggressive, bit violent and awkward. We had separate bedrooms for 2 yrs. I told him that it was over but we lived under the same roof for 2 and a half years.

I requested that we split and that he move out for example. He would not. He wouldn’t go to mediation or a solicitor either. It was traumatising the children and myself. The heart and the soul were disturbed and I felt disappointed, angry, violated.

In the end I had no choice but to move out myself with the children. I live in Hove. I have moved out of the family home with the girls for the present, whilst my x, remains in our family home!

I am now trying to fight a battle and get him to some reasonable understanding that whilst I have cared for the children for 10 years I have allowed him to work and save. He could easily get a mortgage and carry on. For me, the most obvious solution would be to move back into my family home with the children. Its my most affordable option.

Although I own half the property, selling it, would be a silly option also, as I could not afford to put a roof over my 3 children’s heads. I would only be able to use the money to rent and then have nothing left.

I am about to go to the solicitor today and find out more about my rights. I am angry and can’t believe that I wouldn’t have many rights as a non-married person. I consider having been together for 17 yrs to be longer than most marriages last. So how come I may not be able to move back to the family home and its not so simple to get him out, as he could afford to go!!!

I am aware of how the rights of women that are not married are so far and few between. We don’t have any, yet many of us give up a career and allow our husbands to work and them not pay for childcare or cleaning or takeaways, we do that bit. Then we are penalised whilst they carry on with their lives, almost unaffected. We can’t just step back into our career, especially if you don’t return to work for a good few years. I do appreciate the husbands/partners work hard to support their family, but it is their choice, we didn’t force them!!!

Perhaps my x will act honorably in the end – I make my wishes and prayers everyday. However, this has been dragging on now for about 3 yrs.”


So how can we empower Liz and help her see what choices and options she can access?

We are going to arrange for her to receive information and inspiration from the SOS professionals, and I will be interviewing her about her experiences, and how her thoughts, attitudes and actions are influenced by the advice and help that she receives.

Download the pdf here to see full details of Liz’s SOS Makeover: makeover-liz-greader-091109

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