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Cohabitation Agreements

Key Points

  • Unmarried heterosexual or same sex couple couples can make a cohabitation agreement.
  • The agreement operates similar to a prenuptial agreement.
  • Cohabitation agreements clarify who owns what, who is responsible for which bill and how jointly owned items should be split if you separate.
  • Women who take time off work to raise a child could have their contributions recognised in a legal document.

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What is a cohabitation agreement?

If you live together with your partner, or you are planning on living together (whether as a heterosexual or same sex couple), you can make a cohabitation agreement (sometimes also called a living together agreement). This can set out the ownership of existing assets, what your financial responsibilities will be towards each other and how savings and jointly owned possessions will be distributed should you later split up.

What can a cohabitation agreement cover?

  • Children
  • Ownership of property
  • Deposit on your home
  • What share of the mortgage or rent you will pay
  • How household bills will be dealt with
  • Bank accounts and cash
  • Life insurance
  • Pensions
  • Assets such as cars, furniture, other property, jewellery
  • Payment of debts

Why should I have a cohabitation agreement?

A cohabitation agreement can give you peace of mind in your relationship.  By coming to an agreement whilst you are living together you can:

  • Have a clear understanding of what your financial commitments are
  • Avoid misunderstandings regarding your rights and responsibilities as you continue to live together, in particular with regard to ownership of property
  • Avoid difficulties and disagreements if you split up
  • Have clear evidence of your intentions should you have to go to court

Who does it protect?

It can protect either or both of you in the event of relationship breakdown.

It can operate similar to a prenup by making it clear that the pre-owned assets of one party are not intended to be shared with the other if you later split up.  It can make it clear that contributions toward utility bills by one party, for example, doesn’t establish an entitlement to a share of the property itself.

It can also protect the economically weaker partner.  For example, if you are a woman who has given up your job to care for the children, and the family home is owned in your partner’s sole name, your contributions in looking after the home and raising the children would be recognised as an equal contribution if you were married, but not if you are not married.  Unmarried, you could be left with nothing, even if your partner had financially supported you for several years.

As cohabitees, if you own property jointly, it’s automatically divided 50/50 on separation as joint tenants, even when one partner contributed much more to its purchase, unless you make a written agreement to declare different shares, (such as a tenancy in common).

To make sure that your joint intentions on setting up home together are enforceable and will provide the protection you each seek, a cohabitation agreement is vital.

Is a cohabitation agreement legally binding?

A cohabitation agreement is a legal document, enforceable by the court if it is properly executed and providing you have both been honest about your finances and each obtained separate legal advice upon its terms.

How do I make a cohabitation agreement?

Our highly experienced family lawyers are experts in this field and have helped many couples setting up home, or already living together, to draw up agreements that are tailored to their own individual needs.

How much does a cohabitation agreement cost?

This depends on how complex your living arrangements are going to be and how much detail you want to include in your cohabitation agreement.  We offer a fixed fee service and will advise the cost once we know the nature and extent of your intended provisions.

One thing’s for sure, it will be a lot cheaper than battling out later disputes in court without one!

Making a Will

If you are intending to cohabit as an unmarried couple, it is essential that you each make a will if you want your partner to inherit your estate if you die.

Contact our family law experts now to discuss your individual needs or to make an appointment for a confidential meeting.

You have landed on this page as Watson Esam has merged with Graysons

You can read more about the merger here. Graysons will be pleased to help with your enquiry. Please visit our web pages or contact us directly on 0114 358 9009

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