Are you living together with your partner (not married) and looking to protect your assets in the event that your relationship breaks down? If so then a cohabitation agreement may be the solution.
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A cohabitation agreement is a document entered into by an unmarried couple, who either already live together or intend to. Its primary objective is to regulate how property and other assets should be dealt with if they should separate. It can also regulate financial obligations whilst a couple co-own a property.
In addition, the agreement can help document the division of ownership in a property at the time of cohabitation and in the future.
Who would want a cohabitation agreement?
Are you planning to invite your partner to move into a property you already own and want to protect your interest?
Are you buying a property together or have you already bought a home together?
Do you wish to record how bills are being (or will be) paid, what contributions are being (or will be made) and what should happen to those payments if you were to separate?
Do you have a joint bank account or wish to open a joint bank account together?
Do you want clarity on who owns what (eg furniture, car, artwork) to avoid future complications? If there are any jointly purchased items, would you like to agree a mechanism for dealing with these in the event of a separation?
Have you been gifted a large sum of money from parents or family to purchase your home that you would want to protect?
Are you also providing a home to minor children from a previous relationship and looking to ensure your partner has no interest in the property to ensure a stable home?
Unlike married parties, couples who live together do not have the same claims to a share of assets and income from their partner if they were to separate.
Cohabitants should be aware that they acquire no “common law marriage” rights in this country and they currently have no automatic entitlement to financial support or a share of the assets by simply living together for a particular length of time.
The options for separating cohabitants can often be difficult to navigate, which is why early legal advice can be beneficial. A dispute in relation to property rights will most likely be dealt with by way of property law, which can be costly and time-consuming. In addition, a dispute in relation to any children of the relationship (to include financial provision for those children) will be dealt with under children law. By entering into a cohabitation agreement, both parties will have the opportunity to discuss how their finances will be dealt with during their cohabitation and what would happen if they were to separate. This can often reduce potential issues in future and help both parties appreciate from the outset where they stand.