Cohabitation Agreements

Moving in with someone can feel so exciting – whether it is with your romantic partner or best friend. Amongst all the excitement it is not often you want to look to the future and think about the possibility of ending any cohabitation arrangements. However, taking this step to protect yourself can you save you from long, costly, and stressful court proceedings later.

Most people aren’t aware that, if your marriage or civil partnership should break down, the parties will continue to have financial responsibilities for each other. Many people are also not aware that such financial responsibilities are very different if you are not married to your partner.

It seems there is a lot of false information regarding cohabitee ‘rights’ and I can assure you they are vastly different to those of a marriage or civil partnership.

No one wants to look towards a break down of a relationship before it has happened but protecting yourself against such a scenario can benefit you a lot in the future.

Some people find it difficult to talk about money, property and capital assets at the start of a new relationship.  They fear that by discussing this with their new partner, should the relationship break down, they are showing a lack of commitment to the relationship. However, it really is a worthwhile discussion to help protect all parties.

A cohabitation agreement is a written document setting out the agreement reached by two (or more) people, who have decided to start living together.  It sets out the arrangements during, and at the end of the relationship.

A cohabitation agreement will usually record the agreement about the ownership of land and of personal belongings both now and in the future, as well as the payment of bills and living expenses during the relationship.

If you and your cohabiting partner are buying property together, you should have decided whether you will hold that property as joint tenants, or as tenants in common.  If you hold the property as tenants in common, your conveyancer will advise you how the shares of the property are recorded.

But a cohabitation agreement can include a lot more, for example:

–           Who is going to pay the mortgage payments?

–           Who is going to pay the utility bills?

–           When will the property be sold?

–           What will happen if you cannot agree whether the property needs to be sold?

–           Will there be any special arrangements for the sale?

–           What if you one of you wants to buy out the other?

Although you may wish to record your agreement about your financial obligations for your children, remember that you continue to have responsibility for your dependents whether you stay together as a couple or not.

The court can make decisions about property at the end of a cohabitating relationship.  But such court applications are time-consuming, costly and stressful, and the outcome cannot be guaranteed.  By setting out in advance what will happen if the relationship should end, you have saved yourself the time, expense, anxiety and uncertainty of contested court proceedings.

It is therefore advisable to seek independent legal advice before making decisions regarding cohabitation. Our Family Department offer an initial 30 minute free appointment to new clients, to book an appointment or for further information please contact Naomi Corp on 01225 358511.

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

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