If you are married or in a civil partnership, there are laws in place to help determine how your financial assets should be divided if your relationship breaks down. Couples who live together do not have similar legal protections. And although many unmarried couples believe that because they are in a “common law marriage” they have the same financial claims available to them as married couples, the fact is there is no such thing as a common law marriage. This means that you could be left with nothing in the event of a separation.
One way to clearly set out your rights is to have a cohabitation agreement, a legally binding document that sets out how you will manage and organise your finances whilst you live together and how money and property will be divided if the relationship breaks down.
Cohabitation agreements can cover a wide variety of things, including how bills are paid, who owns what and what happens if you should separate.
A cohabitation agreement is vital if you wish to protect your share in a property and provide a clear definition of how the property is owned. People who receive money from the “Bank of Mum and Dad” to help buy a property often have a cohabitation agreement to specify who paid what and how and when the money is to be repaid.
Cohabitation agreements can save you a lot of time and money. Agreeing in advance who owns what and putting that in writing provides you with certainty.
Cohabiting couples are the fastest growing family type in the UK. As a result, we act for increasingly diverse clients including:
- Blended families
- Same-sex families
- Young couples
- Parents and grandparents providing financial support to their children and grandchildren
- Couples who are in business together
- Professional and family trustees
Examples of cohabitation agreements we have recently prepared include:
- A cohabitation agreement between a couple where our client had built up a very successful business over many years prior to meeting his partner. Our client, who also had children from a previous relationship, wanted to ensure his business and wealth were passed to his children in the future. We drafted a cohabitation agreement that effectively ring-fenced those assets in the event of the relationship breaking down.
- A cohabitation agreement for a client who was very concerned about the lack of legal protection for unmarried couples. Although the couple had split their finances evenly throughout their relationship, we drafted a cohabitation to provide clarity and certainty which provided our client with the reassurance she was seeking.