cohabitation agreementThe use of cohabitation agreements is currently a hot topic of discussion with the rights of those who cohabit and who are either not married or not in a civil partnership, very much in the news.

It is estimated that almost six million couples are in cohabiting relationships in England and Wales. Yet despite the increasing popularity of this relationship arrangement, the mistaken belief that people who live with a partner for a couple of years gain the same rights as if they were married or in a civil partnership still continues.

Contrary to what the tabloid press would have you believe, there is no such thing as common law marriage and cohabiting couples have fewer rights than married couples or those in civil partnerships.

Unfortunately, people often only discover this when the relationship breaks down or one partner dies.

In effect the rights between the parties are governed by the existing rules of Property Law and it is very often the case that despite a lengthy relationship, if one party to the relationship owns the property in which the parties or family live and the other party has not contributed financially to that property, when the relationship breaks down or in the event of the death of the owner the partner is likely to be “out in the cold” with the loss of not only their partner but also their home.

If you live together as a couple, there are steps you can take to protect yourself, your partner and any children that you have together and the best advice is to consider entering into a co-habitation agreement.

This can protect both you and your partner from whatever might happen in the future and it can also regulate the financial aspects of the a relationship.

Such an agreement will help you to fairly share the costs of living together and protect assets or property already owned before you lived together or jointly acquired property.

If a cohabitation agreement is entered into as a formal legal deed between cohabiting parties with the assistance of legal advice, such an agreement would be legally binding in the same way as any other legal contract between two people.

Without such an agreement, and without a Will in place, any dispute will be left to the Courts to decide leaving the parties in costly and time consuming litigation with an uncertain outcome.

a_greenIf you want advice regarding a cohabitation agreement please contact Alison Green of Mackrell Turner Garrett on alison.green@mackrell.com

 

Photo credit: flickr/soozafone

 

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