Cohabitation AgreementsMay 12, 2022
“All unmarried couples should consider entering into a Cohabitation Agreement before buying a house or moving in together.”
The reality for many couples is that, if they are unaware of their rights before living together there may be disastrous consequences for the parties if their relationship were to end.
There is a common misconception that a party acquires legal rights simply due to the fact that they are living together with their partner who becomes their “common-law spouse”. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a “common-law spouse” and this is simply an old wives tale that has gained traction over the years.
In many situations it is too late to remedy the situation when an unmarried couple separates, as the law offers very little protection for unmarried couples in terms of generating a “fair” outcome, taking into consideration the length of the relationship, the role of the parties have played in bringing up their children and their future needs moving forward. Unless the parties are able to reach an agreement this can result in protracted and expensive litigation.
For those couples at the beginning of their relationship, both parties should therefore consider entering into a Cohabitation Agreement and this can set out, amongst other things, how they deal with their finances and crucially, how they will divide their assets and their income (where appropriate) in the event of separation.
A Cohabitation Agreement is designed to be a binding contract and a breach could give rise to one party being able to ask the Court to uphold those terms should the other party be reluctant.
A Cohabitation Agreement should be reviewed regularly, for example, if a child is born and such agreements can also form the basis of a Pre-Nuptial Agreement in the event that the parties go on to marry.
Head of Department, Sara Rutter, comments:-
“There is a much-needed change in the law required, but until then a Cohabitation Agreement is the best protection.”
For further information on Cohabitation Agreements, Pre-Nuptial Agreements or legal advice for unmarried couples, please contact either Sara Rutter on 01609 711 158 – [email protected] or Ann Hallmark on 01756 700 200 – [email protected]