Why you need a cohabitation agreement
It is becoming increasingly common for couples to live together in a long-term relationship without getting married or entering a civil partnership. The total number of cohabiting couples has increased by 144% since 1996 to around 3.6 million in 2021. Read this blog to find out the importance of having a cohabitation agreement in place.
You have no legal status as a cohabiting couple
You may have heard of the “common law marriage” but this is simply a myth which can have serious consequences for cohabiting partners. Cohabiting couples have no legal status and do not have the same rights to make property claims as married couples or civil partners. This is regardless of the length of your relationship, or whether you have any children.
Disputes regarding your property can arise
Property is likely to become a disputed area in the event of a relationship breakdown. One of the first steps in determining whether you may have a claim against property is to consider whether you own the property in question jointly with your cohabitant or former cohabitant, or if the property is solely owned by just one of you.
Disputes regarding interests in property often arise where a property is solely owned by one cohabitant or former cohabitant. In some circumstances, a cohabitant who has a potential interest in a property may make an application to the court under legislation called the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA 1996) if the legal owner of the property does not recognise their interest.
An agreement can determine how property and assets are divided
Dividing the assets of a cohabiting couple can be very complex, even if the property is held solely by one party. Cohabiting couples should consider entering into a cohabitation agreement. This can deal with who owns what and in what proportions, what financial arrangements you have decided to make while you are living together and how property and assets should be divided in the event the relationship breaks down.
Our client's story - avoid the costs and stress of having to go through complicated court proceedings in the event of a future relationship breakdown
Our family lawyers know all too well the devastating impact not having a cohabitation agreement can have on separating couples.
Thankfully, when our recent client purchased a new property and wanted his partner to move in with him, he wanted to make sure that his property was protected if they separated. We drafted a cohabitation agreement to set out clearly the terms of the parties’ occupation. The couple later separated.
Luckily, we were able to remind the partner of the terms of the agreement and matters were dealt with very swiftly and amicably, as everything had already been considered and set out. This saved our client a great amount of stress and costs. It is absolutely worthwhile having advice and looking at putting an agreement in place.
As our client’s story shows, having a good cohabitation agreement in place can mean that the areas of potential dispute are reduced, or indeed eliminated. Saving you the costs and stress of having to go through complicated court proceedings in the event of a future relationship breakdown.