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Thinking about living together?

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According to the Office for National Statistics in 2017 there were 3.3 million cohabitating families in the United Kingdom and is it anticipated that these figures will rise. 

The law does not give cohabitees the same rights as married couples and civil partners to financial support or a share of assets upon you no longer living together and there is no such thing as a ‘common law marriage’. 

A Cohabitation Agreement records arrangements between two or more people who have agreed to live together, as a couple of otherwise. 

If you do not intend to marry or enter into a civil partnership, but are intending to live together and pool your resources, you should always enter into a Cohabitation Agreement, ideally before you begin to live together, although an agreement can be entered into during your cohabitation. 

Preparing a Cohabitation Agreement will mean that you have all had an opportunity to address what you expect from one another financially, to help eradicate areas of potential dispute. Upon you no longer living together, a Cohabitation Agreement can also alleviate consequential stresses and save you the costs and uncertainty of litigation. 

A Cohabitation Agreement generally deals with:

who owns and owes what at the time of the agreement;

what financial arrangements you have agreed to whilst you are living together; and

how your property, assets and income should be divided and what, if any, financial support you are willing to offer one another should you no longer live together;.

It can include your agreements with regard to your:

  • home;
  • money;
  • debts;
  • pensions;
  • personal possessions;
  • household expenses;
  • gifts.

Cohabitation Agreements are governed by the laws of Contract and can be challenged, so it is vitally important that the parties:

  • enter into the agreement freely with the intention of creating legal relations;
  • make full and frank financial disclosure to one another;
  • are separately legally represented.  

You could also come to an agreement regarding your child or children and your financial support of them, although such an agreement would not be legally binding. 

If you enter into a Cohabitation Agreement and there is a change in your circumstances, such as moving house or having children, you should always review the agreement. 

Individuals who intend to live together should also make a Will confirming who they would wish to benefit from their estate in the event of their unfortunate death, as a cohabitee can bring a claim against another cohabitee’s estate. 

If you would like any further advice regarding Cohabitation Agreements or any other family law issues, please contact Claire Smith via claire.smith@chattertons.com or telephone 01205 314125.

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