Cohabitation agreements are legally binding documents that set out what happens to any assets in the event of a separation or divorce. It can also cover matters regarding debt payments, mortgage payments and who will be responsible for ongoing household bills after a split.
We can support our clients both locally and nationwide with any of their family law matters.
The legal rights of cohabiting couples
If you are living with your partner but you are not married to them, or you are in a civil partnership, you are legally defined to be a ‘cohabiting couple.’ Unmarried cohabiting couple sometimes assume that living together for a set amount of years will allow them the same or similar legal rights as married couples, but this is not the case.
As a cohabiting couple, you need to be aware that during any legal proceedings that followed a separation, courts would not take into account the length of time you and your partner have cohabited together.
Getting a cohabitation agreement
When moving in with a partner, we always advise unmarried couples to put a cohabitation agreement in place. This is a legally binding document signed by both partners that gives them similar rights to a married couple.
Within the agreement, couple agree what will happen if they break up. Depending on the personal circumstances, the agreement states what will happen with regard to things like the family home, financial support, child maintenance and any shared debts.
Buying a Property together as unmarried partners
When you choose to buy a property together it is important that you and your partner agree what would happen if your relationship did end. You would need to arrange who would stay, or if the property should be sold. It doesn’t matter if you own the property in equal or unequal shares. Each share should always be clearly defined in legal documentation that you can refer back to if necessary.
In some cases, one person may wish to purchase the other’s share. Clear guidelines as to what rights each person has could significantly simplify this situation.
You may also need to discuss the amount of deposit paid when the property was purchased, since your contribution may have been different. Without cohabitation or other financial documents in place, it will most likely be evenly split.
The agreement can be set out when you are first moving in with your partner, or when you have already been living together for a number of years.
We can help you throughout the process of drafting and finalising a cohabitation agreement, making sure that everything is clear to you.