Cohabitation Agreements

Cohabitation Solicitors

In the UK, there are a growing number of couples who choose to live together without being married. A Cohabitation Agreement is recommended to anyone considering moving in with their partner, as the law does not provide the same level of protection to unmarried couples as it does to married couples in the event of relationship breakdown.

At Child Law Partnership, our expert cohabitation solicitors have many years experience in supporting our clients with cohabitation agreements. Call us today on 01256 630080 to discuss how we can help with your situation.

Expert cohabitation lawyers

Unmarried couples have fewer legal rights than married couples. Due to the changing nature of family dynamics, our cohabitation lawyers are seeing a rise in the number of clients who request cohabitation agreements.

A cohabitation agreement can cover a broad range of issues in the event of a relationship breakdown. These can include mortgagees, household costs, arrangements for children, joint bank accounts and pets.

Whether you rent a property or own a property jointly, a formal cohabitation agreement will minimise your financial risk should you separate.

Why should we have a cohabitation agreement?

A written cohabitation agreement can help to protect you from potential risks if you separate or your partner dies.

Though not all of the agreement may be legally enforceable, it can help reduce the likelihood of a dispute arising and make them easier to resolve.

Such an agreement may include reference to finances, children, property and other assets that you may have and how they will be dealt with should you separate or one of you die.

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How do we divide our assets if we split up?

Cohabiting couples have no legal duty to support each other financially, either while you are living together or if you separate. Nor do you automatically share ownership of your possessions, savings, investments and so on.

In general, ownership is unaffected by moving in together and should you decide to part, anything you entered into the relationship owning remains yours.

If you have any debts in joint names (eg credit cards), you are normally each liable for the debt. If your partner fails to pay, you can be pursued for the full amount. You may also both be liable for household bills.

Cohabitation solicitors - Further information

If the property is a rented property, only the person named on the rental agreement has the right to live there and he/she has sole responsibility for the payment of any rent.

Similar rules apply if the property is owned by one of you. The property owner is the only one entitled to live there – anyone else can be asked to leave. The owner can also make decisions – such as selling the property – without consulting their partner.

However, even where only one of you owns the property, the other may have some rights (eg to a share of the money if the property is sold) if:

  • The non-owner contributes financially to the payment of the mortgage on the understanding that the other party is entitled to a share should it then be sold.
  • There are children involved in the partnership; a partner can apply to the Court for the right to remain living in the property to ensure the children’s welfare.

If you own the property in your own name, you can ask your partner to move out and sell up. If the property is held in joint names, you cannot force your partner to sell the home if you decide to leave, unless you apply for a court order.

If the property is owned by your partner and there is no pre-existing declaration of trust or agreement, you do not have an automatic right to a share in the property unless you can prove you have made a financial contribution i.e. you have helped pay the mortgage.

Whatever your circumstances, a written cohabitation agreement detailing what contributions you will each make and what share of the home you are each entitled to, minimises the risk of future disputes.

Couples may also wish to consider entering into a Living Together Agreement to define the terms of cohabitation. This can include things such as what contributions each party will make to the rent or mortgage, how bills are divided and what happens to assets if the relationship ends.

Should your partner die, you have no automatic right to inherit any of their assets unless you are provided for in their will.

When it comes to property, if you owned your home as ‘joint tenants’, you will automatically own the property if your partner dies. If, however, you were ‘tenants in common’, your partner’s share is dealt with under the terms of his or her will.

If you were in an unmarried or non-civil marriage relationship, your partner may be entitled to a share of your pension based on the portion of the pension you earned while you were living together.

Contact our cohabitation solicitors

Perhaps you’re in the process of purchasing a property or just want to safeguard your interests. Whatever your situation, it will be familiar to our experienced cohabitation solicitors.

Speak to our cohabitation solicitors today about your rights in cohabitation and separation. Call our office today on 01256 630080.

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