Cohabitation Agreements

Cohabitation Agreements

Cohabitation AgreementsCohabitation Agreements are a popular way for cohabiting couples to document their intentions regarding important aspects of their relationship, both when they are together and following their separation or the death of one partner. Without a Cohabitation Agreement, your rights are dictated by the law, which views you and your partner as mere ‘cohabitees’ and does not afford you the rights or protection granted to married couples or civil partners.

Our specialist family law solicitors frequently prepare Cohabitation Agreements for clients who have yet to marry their partner or have decided against marriage or a civil partnership entirely. They will take the time to get to know you, and prepare a document that accurately mirrors your intentions and will be legally enforceable if the need arises.

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Why Are Cohabitation Agreements Important?

The number of couples deciding to live together but not marry or enter into a civil partnership has been rising steadily for decades. Many of these couples assume that since the nature of their relationship is akin to a legal union, they enjoy the same rights as their married counterparts. This assumption is incorrect. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no such thing as a ‘common law marriage’ under English law. Couples who live together do so as cohabitees. Accordingly, if your relationship ends, you may discover that your legal position is starkly different from what you expected. For example, you would have no automatic right to remain living in your home if it is registered in your partner’s sole name.

Cohabitation Agreements offer unmarried couples a convenient, cost-effective way to address these issues and protect themselves and each other. Further, by entering into a Cohabitation Agreement, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of protracted disputes both during your relationship and if it ends.

What Is A Cohabitation Agreement?

Cohabitation Agreements document the rights and responsibilities of each partner in relation to their relationship and assets. Most couples use their agreement to clarify how their assets should be divided if their relationship ends, but Cohabitation Agreements also provide a useful opportunity for a couple to address other crucial issues, such as next-of-kin rights.

What Should You Include In A Cohabitation Agreement?

Cohabitation Agreements give a couple control over their relationship. A significant advantage of a Cohabitation Agreement is that you can decide exactly what it should cover, and tailor it to the issues of importance to you and your partner. Depending on your circumstances, you may wish to address all or some of the following matters in your agreement:

  • Property ownership.
  • Payment of household bills and other living expenses.
  • Next-of-kin rights in case of medical emergencies.
  • How you will share the mortgage or rental payments.
  • Childcare arrangements if your relationship ends.
  • What will happen to the family home if you separate.
  • How your assets, such as cars, furniture, and jewellery, will be divided if your relationship ends.
  • Arrangements for your pets if your relationship breaks down.
  • Payment of debts.
  • Whether the economically stronger partner will pay maintenance to the other if you separate.

Are Cohabitation Agreements Legally Binding?

Your Cohabitation Agreement should be legally binding and enforceable, provided it meets the relevant legal criteria. Those criteria include the agreement is fair and that both parties have taken independent legal advice on its terms and effects. Our family law solicitors will guide you through the requirements and ensure your agreement meets them.

When Should You Enter Into A Cohabitation Agreement?

Once you decide that a Cohabitation Agreement would be a good option for you and your partner, it’s best to put one in place sooner rather than later. You will gain peace of mind that your interests are protected, and you can concentrate on enjoying your relationship. Ideally, you will enter into a Cohabitation Agreement before moving in with your partner. However, there is no legal requirement to do so, and you can enter into one at any time during your relationship.

Can You Amend A Cohabitation Agreement?

Yes, you and your partner have the flexibility to amend your Cohabitation Agreement at any time. In fact, it’s a good idea to periodically review your agreement to check that it still aligns with your intentions. If your circumstances change, such as having children, our family law solicitors can advise on any necessary amendments to your agreement to maintain its enforceability. If you later decide to marry or enter into a civil partnership, you might choose to terminate the agreement and consider replacing it with a Prenuptial Agreement if needed.

How Can We Help?

Our family law solicitors have significant expertise in all aspects of cohabitation agreements. Their firm policy is to deal with matters as quickly and cost-effectively as possible, providing you with the support you need to move forward and focus on the future.

Please call us now on 01603 672222 for a no-obligation conversation today or Click Here To Make An Online Enquiry.

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