There is a common misconception that unmarried couples have the same legal rights as married couples. That is incorrect.
A Cohabitation Agreement can help an unmarried couple set out their rights and record how assets will be split if they separate.
Our Family Law Solicitors can help draw up a Cohabitation Agreement to ensure you are protected if your relationship breaks down. The Agreement reduces the risk of Court litigation if you separate from your cohabitee.
Initial Telephone Discussion
A Cohabitation Agreement records how assets will or will not be shared if a couple separate. A Cohabitation Agreement can cover assets and property owned in a couple’s joint names and assets owned by one partner but used or contributed to by the other partner.
As circumstances change, such as the birth of children or moving home, a Cohabitation Agreement can be reviewed and updated
Why is a Cohabitation Agreement necessary?
If you are in an unmarried relationship, you do not have automatic ‘cohabitation rights’ as there is no legally recognised concept of a common-law husband or wife. Instead, your rights as a cohabitee are based on property law. This can mean:
- If the family home is owned in one cohabitee’s sole name, the other partner will not receive a share of the equity if the couple separates, unless the non-owning partner can prove they have a beneficial interest in the property through promises that they will receive a share and by their contributing to mortgage payments or household improvements.
- If the family home is owned in joint names the equity will be shared in accordance with property law rights rather than needs.
- As you have no automatic cohabitee rights, there is a risk that if you separate you could end up in Court arguing over complex property and trust law to determine your property entitlement. The risks can be reduced significantly with a Cohabitation Agreement.
A Family Law Solicitor will help you understand your legal rights as an unmarried partner and explain how a Cohabitation Agreement can be tailored to meet your circumstances.
A Cohabitation Agreement is written to meet your circumstances. The contents will reflect how, as part of an unmarried couple, you plan to divide assets if you separate.
Depending on your wishes, a Cohabitation Agreement can say that none of your solely owned assets will be shared on separation and you will both leave the relationship with the assets you owned before your relationship, with any jointly owned assets acquired after the commencement of your relationship divided equally or in the proportions, you each contributed towards their purchase.
A detailed Cohabitation Agreement can cover matters such as:
- Bank accounts and their operation and closure or transfer on separation.
- Debts and loans.
- Distribution of assets such as cars and household contents.
- Household expenses and how they will be paid during the relationship.
- Ownership of the family home.
- Pet ownership.
- Whether one partner has the right to stay at the family home if there is a separation and how the property will be valued to calculate the amount of the payment to the other partner.
Whether you own property or not, a Cohabitation Agreement is important to minimise disputes if you and your partner separate. Our specialist Cohabitation Solicitors will prepare the Cohabitation Agreement so it is drawn up widely and only needs changing if there is a significant life event, such as the birth of a child.
Other Cohabitation Paperwork
If you are living with a partner, you are likely to need other paperwork to safeguard your interests, including:
- A Declaration of Trust for a property.
- A Will – as without a Will your partner will not automatically inherit a share of your estate under Intestacy Rules.
- A Lasting Power of Attorney so your partner can make decisions on your behalf should you lose the capacity to make decisions.
- A Shareholder or Partnership Agreement if you are in a family business. together or own a buy-to-let property portfolio with your unmarried partner.
- A Prenuptial Agreement if you become engaged to marry.
Where possible we will offer a fixed fee, so you will know what the costs are from the start. For more complex or uncertain projects, we will provide you with an estimate of the likely fees involved and keep you updated throughout the matter.
How to get in contact
Our Family Law Solicitors are on hand to provide expert advice and assist you wherever you are based. Please call us for a no-obligation, initial discussion on 01256 460830 or email [email protected].
Our offices are based in Basingstoke and we assist clients across the country.
We aim to keep legal jargon to a minimum and guide you through the process in a manner that is easy to understand.
Our highly-skilled solicitors offer tailored, strategic solutions to even the most complex matters, ensuring you receive the guidance and support you need.
We will be by your side throughout every stage of the process and will provide you with regular updates and advice along the way.
We communicate thoroughly with you from the outset to ensure that we fully understand your individual needs. This allows us to accurately quote for your matter leaving you without any unexpected surprises and fees further down the line.
We provide our clients with a concise and transparent breakdown of costs from the outset of the matter and throughout any subsequent stages. This enables you to build faith and trust in us early on to form a lasting relationship.
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