Unmarried couples and Cohabitation Agreements

Many unmarried couples believe that if they live together (cohabit) for long enough, they will acquire similar legal rights to those of married couple and that they will become what is colloquially referred to as a ‘common law wife or husband’ and will be entitled to come support or to share their property after they split up but unfortunately this is not the case.

The law applicable to partners interests at the end of a cohabiting relationship is highly complex, and disputes can be very expensive to resolve it is sensible therefore to try and agree in advance with your partner what should happen to your money and any property your occupy in the event that you split up.

A method of doing this is by entering into Cohabitation Agreement which sets out what your property interests are at this point in your relationship, and what you both intend to happen if the relationship ends.
Cohabitation Agreements can be entered into at any time when you live together, or even before you start to do so.
They can be particularly useful when one partner purchases a property into which both people move, or when children are born.

A Cohabitation Agreement can therefore deal with many issues including:-

  • ownership of property, and the parties’ assets;
  • it may stipulate what each party is going to pay in relation to the mortgage repayments;
  • how household bills are to be dealt with and any other financial issues;
  • a stipulation whether the parties intend to make a will and if so what gifts and legacies may be in that will;
  • setting out arrangements for care of the children.

The agreement can also be made for a specific term and have provisions dealing with when the agreement should be reviewed and an agreement can also a include an important statement setting out the purpose of the Agreement.
It is important to remember that although Cohabitation Agreements are not legally binding, in the event of a later dispute with your partner, the information contained within the agreement will be highly persuasive as evidence of both parties’ intentions.

If you would like specialist advice about making a Cohabitation Agreement then please contact us:

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