Cohabiting unmarried couples are becoming more and more common. You may think the only difference between you and a married couple is a piece of paper. However, your legal rights should the relationship break down, are significantly different.

As unromantic as it may seem it is always wise to prevent difficulties by preparing for them, especially if you’re financially dependent on your partner. A Cohabitation Agreement will help protect your shared rights over property and money should your relationship come to an end.

If you’re considering buying a home with your partner, or have already done so, taking out a Cohabitation Agreement is the best way to ensure your relationship is on fair footing and is a sensible precaution, both financially and legally.

Our award-winning Family Law department were recently listed in the Legal 500, so you can be sure that you are in safe hands, get in touch with us for advice or help with setting up a Cohabitation Agreement.

The Common Law Marriage Myth

It is a very widely held misconception that unmarried couples living together are protected by ‘common law marriage’ but this just is not the case.

It doesn’t matter how long your relationship has lasted when it comes to who is entitled to which assets and income. Generally, court settlements are more beneficial to the property-owning party and there are currently no provision for the equivalent of spousal maintenance.

Therefore, without a Cohabitation Agreement the settlement you would receive is often very different to what you would achieve should you be married. This can create a financial disaster for a dependant cohabitee should a relationship end or a loved one die.

If you need any legal advice about cohabitation, please contact our experienced family law specialists.

Joint Ownership Agreement

It is always advisable for co-owners of property, particularly where one has contributed more to the purchase price, to enter into a joint ownership agreement as this will:

  • Confirm the extent of their ownership of the property (i.e. how much money each has put in and how much they want out if sold);
  • Set out any express terms that the co-owners want to include. These might include provisions to deal with a situation where one of the co-owners wants to sell and move out or practical arrangements for day-to-day issues such as how the parties will arrange for maintenance and meet other expenses related to the property.

If a co-owner has contributed more to the purchase price and they then split up, they may not get back what they put in. Having a joint ownership agreement in place avoids this situation and unnecessary stress should you have to sell a co-owned property.

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