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Cohabitation agreements offer peace of mind

When two people live together in England or Wales and they aren’t married or in a Civil Partnership, in legal terms it’s called ‘cohabitation’. This is a way of life that more of us are choosing.

Maybe it’s the worry about the cost of getting married or rising divorce rates. Whatever the reason, more and more people are choosing to simply live together with their partner. Research by the Office for National Statistics found that the number of people living together or ‘cohabiting’ in the UK doubled between 1996 and 2012, making cohabitation the UK’s fastest growing family group. Despite this, many people wrongly believe that they would have the same legal rights as married couples if they ever separate from their partner.

I live with my partner. What are my legal rights?

Cohabiting couples do not have the same legal rights as married couples and contrary to popular opinion there is no such thing as a ‘common law husband’ or ‘common law wife’ in UK law. The same is also true of same sex couples who live together.

If you are living with your partner you are not automatically entitled to their assets upon death or separation. If you moved into your partner’s house many years ago and have paid half the mortgage and household bills each month, you do not have an automatic right to a share of their property if your name is not on the mortgage deeds.

This remains the case even if you have had children with your unmarried partner and you have always been financially supported by them. Cohabitation Agreements drawn up by expert Family Solicitors can help you and your partner set things out clearly and avoid potentially expensive and upsetting disputes should you ever separate.

What to include in a Cohabitation Agreement?

Cohabitation Agreements are bespoke for each couple and can be tailored to meet your specific needs. They generally record details as to who owns what in the relationship, who will pay the mortgage and other household expenses and what should happen to financial assets and property if you separate.

A cohabitation agreement can also record your intentions as to any property or other assets that you and your partner buy together after the cohabitation agreement is made.

How do we get a Cohabitation Agreement?

Cohabitation can be a complex area of law and before entering into any agreement it’s important to seek expert legal advice . A trusted and experienced Family Solicitor can help you make sure you’ve covered all the things that you need to cover and advise you about amendments to your cohabitation agreement should your circumstances change.

For more information read our online legal advice guide to Cohabitation Agreements which you can download and print.

For an initial consultation with a family lawyer contact us here and we'll be happy to help you.

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