Legal Protection for Cohabiting Couples
It is common nowadays for unmarried couples to live together as if they were married or in a civil partnership. This long-term alternative living arrangement may see cohabitants sharing many assets including co-owned property, shared cars or joint bank accounts.
Some financial protection is given by the law to cohabiting couples however, it is untrue to believe that they are afforded the same legal protection as those who are married or in a civil partnership. The difference between the protection offered to married and cohabiting couples is substantial and it is advisable that any cohabiting couple contact a cohabitation lawyer for specialist advice to prevent lengthy legal action if the relationship breaks down.
Creating a Cohabitation Agreement
The best way to avoid a number of issues is to consider making a cohabitation agreement. Once a cohabitation agreement has been put in place, it will offer security should the relationship end or one cohabitee pass away. We are able to advise you on your specific circumstances and let you know what your options are.
Are Cohabitation Agreements Legally Binding?
Cohabitation agreements are legally binding documents viewed similarly to contracts. If a contract has been agreed upon and signed by both parties, and one party fails to uphold its resulting obligations, the court can review the contract and enforce it. Similarly too with a cohabitation agreement.
What Should Be In A Cohabitation Agreement?
A cohabitation agreement should contain, at least, the following:
- The names and addresses of the couple in question
- Explanation that the agreement is intended to be legally binding and that the couple is aware of the implications.
- Childcare arrangements for any involved children or future children.
- What property is involved, including jointly owned homes, assets, and individual property.
- Termination provisions which outline what should happen if the couple separate and decide to terminate the agreement.
Keep in mind that this is simply a summary of the basics, and much more can be included in the agreement. Speak to one of our solicitors today for more information.
What Can a Cohabitation Agreement Cover?
A wide variety of clauses can be put in a cohabitation agreement. Most commonly, they are put in place when a cohabiting couple decides to buy a property together, especially if one party pays a more significant share of the deposit. The agreement outlines how the property, and any other assets or debts, should be shared following the breakdown of the relationship.
Do I Need A Cohabitation Agreement?
Many couples don't feel they need a cohabitation agreement, but that can quickly change. In the event of separation, any dispute over property or asset ownership can lead to lengthy, costly, and stressful court proceedings. Moreover, if you are unsuccessful after the dispute is settled, you may need to cover the winning party's legal costs.
Cohabitation agreements provide an outline of precisely what should happen and how things should be distributed following separation, allowing you to avoid the costs and uncertainty involved with a court case.
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Kee Solicitors are a specialist family law firm and are here to help you with any questions.