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Cohabitation & Living Together Agreements

 

The family team at Herrington Carmichael are experienced in dealing with all matters in relation to cohabitation.

We offer a FREE 15 minute consultation and then a meeting can be arranged in any of our London, Camberley or Wokingham offices.

What is a cohabitation agreement?

A Cohabitation Agreement records the arrangements between two or more people who have agreed to live together. It records each parties’ rights and responsibilities in relation to the property, financial arrangements during the relationship and any arrangements to be made if they decide that they no longer want to live together.

Why do we need a cohabitation agreement?

A Cohabitation Agreement could avoid the cost of litigation about who owns what shares in a property if the cohabitation comes to an end. A cohabitation agreement can also be used to record the ownership of personal property (for example, cars, jewellery, furniture) and what will be retained by who if the cohabitation comes to an end.

If your relationship breaks down, you will not have the same rights as a married couple. Married couples can claim rights to each other’s property, pensions, bank accounts and income. The claims are enshrined in matrimonial law. Having a Cohabitation Agreement in place means that you have a formal agreement with your partner on how your finances will be managed whilst you are living together and how they will be dealt with if you break up. The main aim is to avoid costly litigation if the relationship ends.

>> Cohabitation Agreement Flowchart
>> Cohabitation Factsheet

What should a cohabitation agreement cover?

A cohabitation agreement should cover the key financial issues. For example, it should include what rights each partner has regarding property you live in, who owns other assets and who is responsible for any debts. It’s also common to explain how expenses will be shared while you live together, for example, household bills.

Should our cohabitation agreement cover relationship rules, such as who does the housework?

It is generally sensible to discuss issues such as who is going to do the housework prior to preparing a cohabitation agreement, however, it is generally not advisable to have these arrangements reflected in your cohabitation agreement and should be discussed between yourselves. Your cohabitation agreement should focus on things such as finances or the division of expenses.

Is a cohabitation agreement legally enforceable?

A cohabitation agreement is essentially a contract between two parties. To be legally enforceable, it must have been made with the intention to create ‘legal relations’, which means that both parties knew that they were entering into a legal agreement.

However, a cohabitation agreement may not be reasonable if it is unfair to one party. Therefore, to maximise the chances that your agreement is enforceable, it is advisable to seek legal advice on its contents.

It is also important to note that the agreement will not overrule other legal rights and requirements, particularly ones in relation to children.

Will a cohabitation agreement have any effect if we later get married?

If you have a cohabitation agreement, it may be considered by the court if you later get divorced. However, one option is to state that the cohabitation agreement comes to an end automatically if you get married. If you want to have a similar agreement drawn up, you may want to consider a prenuptial agreement. Please contact the family team at Herrington Carmichael if you would like to discuss your options.

What to do next?

Once you have come to an agreement, each of you should make an appointment to see a solicitor separately. The solicitors can draft an agreement that you are both happy with and provide advice on the different options available to you. Your solicitor can also give you advice on how these agreements might be affected if you ever decide to get married.

Cohabitation

It is a common misconception that cohabitants possess the same legal rights and obligations as a married couple or a civil partnership…

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