Key Advice for a Cohabitation Agreement
Cohabitation agreements are often useful tools for cohabitating couples, and ought to be considered by every couple living together or for couples who have plans to live together in the near future.
It is becoming increasingly popular for couples to choose to live together before marrying, as this can be a more affordable way to put a relationship to the test rather than getting married first and having to go through the costly divorce proceedings if the marriage or civil partnership breaks down.
We bring you this article to discuss what a cohabitation agreement is all about. Hopefully, reading this article will help you understand more about cohabitation agreements, and you may wish to consider it for yourself if you are in a cohabiting relationship. Keep reading to find out more information.
What Is a Cohabitation Agreement?
A cohabitation agreement (sometimes referred to as a ‘living together agreement’) is a legal document that details the agreement between an unmarried couple who live together or plan to live together.
Unmarried couples do not have the same rights as married couples, and despite the common misconception, ‘common law’ marriage does not exist. So, having a cohabitation agreement can provide couples with a degree of certainty upon the breakdown of the relationship and provide a clear picture as to the entitlement of each party, which should save considerable time and money if a dispute arises.
Parties should seek independent legal advice to ensure that they fully understand the terms of the cohabitation agreement. If the agreement is drafted and executed properly by a legal professional, and if both parties’ financial and family arrangements have not changed, then the agreement should be enforceable in the event of a family dispute. Both parties should also engage in full and frank financial disclosure for the agreement to be effective.
What Is the Point of a Cohabitation Agreement?
Cohabitation agreements set out ownership of the parties’ assets, and how the assets should be treated if the relationship breaks down. Cohabitation agreements can also deal with how bills are paid and sets out financial provisions if the couple share children. They can help couples understand what their financial obligations are during the course of the relationship.
Cohabitation agreements are a great way of adding security to a relationship but without the financial ties that come with marriage or civil partnership:
- It helps couples understand what their financial commitments are during the relationship
- Helps to avoid disagreements in the event of potentially splitting up
- It makes your intentions clear in the event of a dispute.
It is worth noting that if your circumstances change, you should seek legal advice as to whether the agreement will need to change. If so, the other party will need to consent to any changes.
What Can Be Included in a Cohabitation Agreement?
- Bank accounts
- Savings accounts
- Child maintenance
- Mortgages or ownership of a property
- House deposits
- Financial provision for the children
- Household bills
- Life insurance
- Next of kin rights
- Non-financial contributions to the relationship
- Title deeds
- Other high-cost items
The agreement can also include what would happen if one or both parties became ill, incapacitated, or passed away.
Am I Protected?
In the event of a relationship breakdown, a cohabitation agreement can protect you by making it clear what each one of you owns. If both partners contribute to bills and a mortgage, for example, it will prevent either partner from claiming the property should belong to them.
Cohabitation can also help when children are involved - for example, if one parent has given up their job to care for the children whilst the family home is owned in one name, contributions from looking after the home and the children would be recognised, even when not contributing on the financial side of bills and rent/mortgage payments.
Therefore, it is important for a couple who are living together to set up a cohabitation agreement to provide protection for themselves. If a couple ever needs to split, the rules they set out for themselves are there to be enforced with no drama or issues; their shared agreement will be there in black and white.
Bell Lamb & Joynson
Talk to our expert team of family law solicitors at Bell Lamb & Joynson if you are interested in our services and wish to draw up a cohabitation agreement of your own. Our family law solicitors have helped many couples when they have come to live together and set up their homes.
Drawing up agreements can be beneficial for both in the relationship and helps to show each other that you are serious about the relationship by joining your assets together. This can be a great step to take before you decide to take the next step of marriage.