If you and your partner live together or are planning on living together soon, then you should consider whether a cohabitation agreement would be beneficial both for your relationship and for yourselves individually.
Unmarried couples do not have certain rights that married couples do which can make life problematic if you decide to separate or if one member of the relationship dies.
Because cohabitation agreements are legal documents, it is best to seek legal advice from a qualified solicitor when drafting an agreement to ensure that it will hold up in court if it is ever needed to.
What is the current law on cohabitation?
The legal rights on cohabiting couples are not the same as the legal rights that apply to married couples or couples in a civil partnership.
When married couples divorce, each party is entitled to a share of the matrimonial assets and potentially a share of non-matrimonial assets too if one party deserves a greater share of assets.
Unmarried couples do not have this entitlement. So, if they were to split up, there is no share of joint assets and one individual could be left in a difficult position.
Many people believe in ‘common law marriage’, where a cohabiting couple are treated as a married couple if they stay in a relationship for long enough or if they have children. Unfortunately, ‘common law marriage’ has not been valid since 1753.
What is a cohabitation agreement in the UK?
Cohabitation agreements are legal documents that define a couple’s assets, such as individual finances and property ownership, during a non-marital cohabitation.
They can include anything that either member of the relationship deems to be important. Most cohabitation agreements include instructions on:
- Property ownership (before and during the relationship)
- Bills, debts, and other financial information
- Wills and inheritance in case one party dies
For cohabiting couples with children, a cohabitation agreement can set out arrangements concerning child maintenance if you were to ever split up, potentially offering you more security as you know what circumstances you can expect for your child.
Cohabitation agreements can also be used by cohabiting groups as well as cohabiting couples.
Are cohabitation agreements enforceable and legally binding?
If you are concerned about cohabitation agreement enforceability due to the lack of legal rights of cohabiting couples, then you should ensure that you and your party are completely honest and upfront with your information that is included in the cohabitation agreement to maximise the chance that it can be enforced by the courts.
As well as this, both parties should seek independent legal advice to provide further guarantee that the agreement will be accurate and legally enforceable.
Finding a Living together agreement UK template
You may be able to find many living together agreement variations online but it is very much advised that you visit a trained and qualified family law solicitor to draft your agreement for you to ensure that the document is legally sound.
What is the difference between civil partnership and cohabitation?
Civil partnerships are legal relationships that have available for same-sex couples and have been since The Civil Partnership Act came into place in 2005, and are essentially the same as marriage as they grant the same rights to both parties in the civil partnership as a marriage would.
Cohabitation, however, is not a legal relationship and provides no additional rights like civil partnerships or marriage does.
Finding cohabitation solicitors
If you want the comfort that comes with the security of your finances while cohabiting then we strongly advise that you get in touch with a cohabitation agreement solicitor like ours at Brown Turner Ross.
We can sit down with you and draw up a full and inclusive agreement that will be legally enforceable in court should you and your partner ever split up or if your partner passes away.