Cohabitation Agreements for Cohabiting Couples in the UK
If you are living together with a person who you are in a relationship with but not married to or in a civil partnership with you are officially seen as a cohabiting couple.
In 2017, from the 19 million families in the UK, 17.4 percent were found to be a ‘cohabiting couple family’; a total of 3.3 million families.
Research has shown that the number of cohabiting couples is growing faster than the number of married and civil partnership couples, and the number of cohabiting couples in the UK are likely to increase much further.
Legal Rights of Cohabiting Couples
There is a general assumption amongst unmarried, cohabiting couples that living together for a set amount of years will allow them the same or similar legal entitlements as married couples.
This is unfortunately not true. During any legal proceedings following cohabitation with an unmarried partner, courts would not take into account the length of time you lived together in a relationship.
This further means that aspects such as household contributions and time taken to care for and raise children would not be taken into consideration when negotiating any financial settlement agreements after a relationship breakdown.
Family Law Solicitors Advice on Cohabitation
Moving in with your partner is undoubtedly a very exciting time, it’s a time in which you are moving forward in your relationship by creating a home for yourself and the person you love.
Unfortunately, good times do not always last, and you and your partner could decide to end the relationship at some point in the future.
To protect both yourself and your partner from a messy, long-lasting and complicated break-up we would always advice each unmarried couple to ensure they have a cohabitation agreement in place.
The cohabitation agreement is a legally binding document signed by both partners to allow a couple who are living together to enjoy rights that are similar to the rights of a married couple.
Within the cohabitation agreement the couple would agree on what would happen if they were to break up.
Depending on the personal circumstances the agreement would state what would happen in regard to for example the family home, financial support or child maintenance, outstanding debts, childcare and the division of specific assets.
Protection for both you and your partner
Signing a cohabitation agreement with your partner does not mean that either of you are unsure of your relationship or about your choice to move in together.
It simply puts in place a protection allowing you to live together freely and without doubts or worries about your future finances.
You furthermore will never feel like you are unable to leave your partner due to your joint responsibilities in the undesirable event that the relationship unfortunately does sour.
Separating without a cohabitation agreement
If you have been living together with your partner in a committed relationship for a number of years before separating without having previously signed a cohabitation agreement, many issues can occur.
It is common that one of the partners moves out of the house after the relationship has broken down, often leaving either one or both of the individuals in a financially complicated situation.
Financial concerns following a separation
If you are left staying in the house you will suddenly have to cover all the bills fully, instead of sharing them like you used to do. You likely initially opted for a rent you could afford on a shared income, which you now no longer have access to.
The break up could also leave you on the opposite side of the fence. If the house was rented or bought fully on your partners name, you are likely the person moving out.
In a worst-case scenario, and when the break up happened abruptly, you may find yourself with no other place to stay.
Buying a property together as unmarried partners
When you choose to buy a property together it is important that you and your partner discuss and agree upon what would happen if your relationship did end.
You would need to ensure it is clearly arranged who will stay in the property or if the property should be sold.
It does not matter if you own the property in equal or unequal shares, as each share should always be clearly defined in legal documentation you can refer back to if this becomes necessary.
If a mortgage is shared you should further define how mortgage payments and other bills will be divided after a break up. Will you both continue to pay for the mortgage until you sell the property or will the person moving out pay less or even nothing during the separation or sales process?
In some cases, one person may wish to purchase the share of the other. Clear guidelines as to what rights each person has pursuing owning the property outright would significantly simplify this situation.
Furthermore, the amount of the deposit paid at the time of purchase may differ greatly between the two ex-partners. Without cohabitation or other financial documentation in place it would be likely that both parties would receive an equal, yet unfair share of the properties’ equity.
Family Law Solicitors for Cohabitation Issues
Our expert family law solicitors will be able to assist and advice you on setting up your cohabitation agreement to help safeguard your future.
Your cohabitation agreement can be set out while you are first moving in with your partner or when you have already been living together for a number of years.
If unfortunately, you did not set out your legal rights as a cohabiting couple and recently separated you may have found yourself in a difficult position.
We can offer you our expert legal advice, guidance and support through this difficult time and help you ensure your separation is handled with empathy and care.
Cohabitation Agreements and Services
Following a separation from your unmarried partner you may need assistance handling your negotiations and separation agreements.
If no agreements can be made, legal entitlements, specific agreements and orders may be decided upon by the courts. If this is the case, we can represent you.
Our solicitors are expert mediators, family law experts and always sympathetic to your specific situation. With the level of expertise and care provided you can be ensured that we will find the best possible outcome for you.
No matter how simple of complex your case may be, we are here to take on your cohabiting matters from beginning to end.
Our services regarding cohabitation agreements will be priced with your specific situation in mind. However, in general, cohabitation agreement fees are as follows:
|General costs from:||£1,000|
Please be aware that cost may differ depending on your personal circumstances.
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