Our society has gone through various changes and for individuals to live together outside of a civil partnership or marriage is no longer looked down upon. However, unmarried couples living together do not enjoy the same legal rights as married and civil partners.
To safeguard your position, if your relationship breaks down or you or die, a cohabitation agreement needs to be recorded. The agreement regulates the terms for living together and address concerns regarding financial support, property and children if the relationship ends.
What is a Cohabitation Agreement?
A cohabitation agreement is a legal document between an unmarried couple living together. As mentioned, it sets out arrangements for money, property and children before or during cohabitation. These arrangements are necessary for the event that you split up, become ill or die. This agreement saves any potential disputes down the line. Royce Legals Cohabitation agreement solicitors believe future planning is necessary, and a little goes a long way.
Why Do You Need a Cohabitation Agreement?
Our solicitors believe that it’s essential you come to an agreement on these crucial matters at your earliest possible. Couples often fall into the trap of assuming that their assets are protected, or their partner will agree with them on important issues. It’s better to be certain and secure, with the cohabitation agreement, you get to set the record straight from the get go and avoid unnecessary drama if your relationship ends.
Our Family law team will ensure that both you and your partner are satisfied with the terms in the agreement. Our solicitors believe in encouraging couples to settle as many points as possible, no matter how trivial they are. Cars, items for home and joint bank accounts are all worth agreeing on from the outset.
FAQs about Living Together
Is the cohabitation agreement legally binding?
Yes. The agreement is signed as a deed is legally binding as long it’s drafted and executed correctly. We advise that you seek legal guidance before entering into a cohabitation agreement.
We got married, what happens to the Cohabitation agreement now?
The agreement can serve as a Pre Civil Partnership agreement or a “prenup.” You need to clearly agree whether the terms will survive or terminate the marriage. Again we advise that you speak to one of our family law solicitors. They will guide you towards the best approach regarding your circumstances when it comes to marriage, cohabitation and prenuptial matters.
What is a cohabitee?
A cohabitee is an unmarried individual living with a partner. Currently, the Cohabitation Rights Bill is being reviewed in the UK. The Bill will define cohabitees as people ‘living together as a couple’ meeting the following conditions:
- They are in a relationship;
- They are members of the same household;
- They are in a sexual relationship;
- They financial support their partner;
- There is a public acknowledgement of their relationship
- There are child/children involved.
What are the types of Cohabitation disputes?
Royce Legal has expert cohabitation solicitors to advise you on your rights and agreements, as a cohabitee. A cohabitation agreement covers post-separation disagreements and minimises the need for unnecessary litigation over the following matters:
- Legal Shared in business or property.
- Management of the family business(es).
- Payments of debt, property and mortgage.
- Division and distribution of shared assets and savings.
- Applying for life insurance for each other.
- Will and provisions for death.
- Distribution of car(s).
- Custody of family pets, if any.
What is the right time to make a cohabitation agreement?
It is advisable to make cohabitation agreements before buying property, moving into your partners’ place, giving up your job to be a homemaker or before having children. Cohabitation agreements provide clarity on the above matters alongside security as each partner knows where they stand if the relationship ends.
What are my rights if I split from my unmarried partner?
Unmarried couples can make claims against the property that is jointly owned, but they won’t be receiving shares of pension as a divorced couple would. If transfer of property, financial maintenance and children arrangements have not been discussed, there is nothing the law can do to make your partner pay regardless of the number of years you have been together. Common-law spouse is not a concept in English Law. Regardless of your years together, the court will treat you as cohabitants.
The court will try its best to help out the financially weak partner, but its control is very limited.
How does the court decide on the division of assets?
There is a difference between how the court decides for divorcing and cohabitated couples. Decisions for divorce are based on fairness, while decisions for cohabitating are governed by the couples shared intentions which is often an unfair outcome.
What happens to the children?
When it comes to living arrangements for children and spending time with a parent(s), the law does not distinguish between married and cohabitating couples. Here the child’s best interests are given priority rather than the status of the relationship.
However, a non-resident parent will have to pay child support regardless of whether they are married to the other parent. The child maintenance services deal with this instead of the court. The court can make additional financial provisions for the parent that will care for the child, but this is rare and only applied if the non-resident parent is well-off. Even then, the provision is provided for the child’s care and is not seen as asset sharing as seen with divorcing couples. This provision ends when the child is no longer a minor.
What is the cost in terms of legal fees?
The costs are dependent on the issues being resolved and how long it takes to resolve them. In cohabitation disagreements, all is not fair as it is with a divorce. The losing party pays the winners costs at the end of court proceedings. Meaning that if you lose, you will be paying your own legal fees as well as your ex-partners.
We urge you to contact Royce Legal Solicitors early on in the process, so you have an expert guiding you in this area of law. They will advise you on whether your claim will see through and save you from the additional costs of paying for your ex-partner.
Royce Legals Approach to Cohabitation Agreements
We believe that no issue is too trivial to be addressed under the cohabitation agreement. Therefore we make it our business to go through your concerns with a fine comb and see each’s impact on you and how best to address them in an appropriate and cost effective manner.
We consider all angles and options available to you, along with guidance on living together or help you create living arrangements together.
Our approach, in a word, is non-confrontational. We aim to resolve most matters through collaborative law or family mediation.
Royce Legals Family law solicitors believe that a cohabiting couple does not need to be at the end of their relationship to seek legal advice. The collaborative law model is excellent in resolving disputes or reaching agreements.
Why Choose Royce Legal For Your Family Issues?
Family issues are distressing, but our family law solicitors have the right emotional and legal knowledge to see you through this process. We ensure that you benefit from rational and honest legal advice. Experience has a strong influence on the guidance we impart as we have dealt with various family issues. Trust our experience. Contact our Family Law team for peace of mind and a free consultation.