16 September 2011
Not a complete loss for co-habitees, by Kirsten Grotte
It has recently been reported by the law society that the government has decided not to change the current law for unmarried couples so that they have the same protection and rights as those who are married.
However all is not bleak for cohabiting couples as there are other ways of protecting your position when it comes to having assets and the relationship breaks down or one partner dies.
The most effective way of securing your position is by entering into a Cohabitation Agreement or Contract. This is a contract that provides the framework to be relied upon when the couple separates and can be used to deal with the assets thereafter.
Unlike Pre-nuptial Agreements for married couples, Cohabitation Contracts are legally binding and enforceable in the Courts. This can potentially give unmarried couples more security than those who are getting married.
I appreciate that Cohabitation Contracts are not exactly the most romantic way to say "I love you, but please don’t take me to the cleaners if our relationship goes belly up" but there are other methods that can be used to secure a person’s assets, especially when it comes to property.
It is also advisable for cohabiting couples to address their Wills as a partner will not automatically inherit from the other if they die during the relationship.
It is advisable therefore to contact a solicitor if you are not planning on getting married but you wish to safeguard your assets or enquire as to your legal rights upon separation when you are in a cohabiting relationship.
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