Increasingly as cohabiting with your partner is becoming more socially acceptable, more couples are choosing to live together rather than marry, or to cohabit before they marry.
If however you chose to live together and not marry, your position if your relationship breaks down is very different from that if you were married.
There are currently no rules or legislation governing how financial matters should be resolved when an unmarried couple separate. The law that is applied is therefore the same as it would be in a commercial situation and takes almost no account of the family relationships.
It can be very difficult to establish a claim to any property or assets unless you are named as a legal owner. The legal process of establishing such a claim is complex and uncertain.
It is not possible to seek ongoing financial support from your partner, known as maintenance, if you have not been married. However, the obligation to provide maintenance for children is not dependent on you having been married.
If you are in a financially better position than your partner, you may prefer to remain unmarried. If this is the case however, in the event of a separation, it can leave your ex-partner struggling to get by as they wouldn’t be entitled to the financial assets in your name.
For example, if one person stays at home to raise the family and the other works long hours in their job. If the home and savings of the couple are put in the name of the ‘breadwinner’ and the relationship breaks down the ‘homemaker’ would have no claims for any interest in the house or a share of the savings if their name was not on the house or the bank accounts. This would be the case regardless of how long the couple had been together.
In order to ensure a fair outcome if the relationship breaks down, and to protect each of your positions, you may therefore want to consider drawing up a cohabitation agreement.
A cohabitation agreement is a legally recognised document which records specific details about a couple and each of their assets; these agreements can also be tailored to suit the individual needs of each couple. The types of details that can be listed in an agreement include:
- Who owns what at the start of the relationship?
- How will any property acquired during the relationship be owned?
- Who will be responsible for mortgage and other property costs?
At Slater and Gordon UK, our expert Family Lawyers can advise you on the cohabitation issues you and your partner should consider, where you both stand legally and how the Court would view your specific arrangements.
For an initial consultation with a family lawyer to discuss the possibility of drawing up a cohabitation agreement, call freephone 0800 916 9055 or alternatively contact us online and we will call you back.