Cohabitation Agreement Awareness Week

27th November to the 1st December marks the spark for National Cohabitation Awareness week. If your unmarried and living together then you want to consider being aware of what protection are you afforded with.

Unmarried couples unfortunately do not have the same level of rights and protection as married couple.

As the marriage rate is on the decline, there is an increasing rise in more 5.9 million in the UK cohabitating that are unaware of their rights or the protection they may need to afford themselves if you they want to protect their primary asset.

What is a cohabitation agreement?

A Cohabitation agreement is a legal document prepared between unmarried couples that have chosen to live together and want to clearly define property rights and arrangements if they were to separate after living together.

It is known as an essential protective tool to be considered for unmarried couples.

How can a cohabitation agreement help me?

With more and more people choosing to live together and not marrying a co-habitation agreement can safeguard your beneficial interest in property.

Cohabiting couples quite often do not know they have little or no legal protection if they separate. Cohabiting couples may believe that they are protected under the old myth of ‘common law marriage’ however this is not the case.

Looking to the future

When you are cohabiting and have decided not marry you may wish to think about what the future holds.  As you will not have the same legal rights as a married couple you may want to seek the advice of a family lawyer to consider drafting up a cohabitation agreement.

Cohabitating couples still need to safeguard themselves for life eventualities as do married couples. Just because you do not have a marriage certificate does not mean you do not wish to provide for each other. This is where getting good solid advice on what your options are can help and assist in what your beneficial interest in property is.

What to consider within a co habitation agreement

When you are looking at drafting a cohabitation agreement or a living together agreement then you may want to consider the following:

  • Finance: Disclose your financial status and be honest and open about what your income/outcomes are. When you have joint property ownership it can be a good idea to appoint a financial advisor to clarify your financial status when you decide on co-habitation.

 

  • Assets: List your assets and what your wishes are regarding them. Do you want to sign any of your assets over to your partner? Do you wish to leave any of your assets to your children? List these wishes out in your co-habitation agreements so there is no confusion down the line in terms of interest or ownership.

 

  • Property: Is the property in your name or your partners or it could joint property ownership. Sit down and discuss what would happen if you separate and what your beneficial interest in property is. If you live in a property that is owned by your partner then you will not have any right to that property unless you set out terms in a co habitation agreement.

 

  • Children: When cohabiting couples have children together then you will still both be responsible for their upbringing. However to save argument down the line then, setting out these terms in living together agreement can save time and money down the line.

 

What If I still don’t understand a cohabitation agreement?

When you are unsure of what is a cohabitation agreement then getting legal advice is advantageous. It will assist with where you stand and will also offer advice on what is best for you both.

You don’t go into a relationship thinking that you will separate but it sometimes does happen and you both need to be prepared. You may question what is a cohabitation agreement? This agreement can be of beneficial interest, depending on the terms, in property in the event of you separating for joint property ownership.

You may also want to consider drafting up a Will where you will make provisions for your partner. This too can be beneficial interest in property and can bring some comfort as you know that you will still be providing for each other.

Co habitation and joint property ownership for friends, siblings and parents

People can often be under the impression that you have to be in a relationship to have a cohabitation agreement but this is not necessarily the case.

You can have a cohabitation agreement if you are friends living together, siblings or a parent and child. Just because you are not in a relationship you can still have joint property ownership and have a beneficial interest in property.

A cohabitation agreement will cover you for as long as you are together and will set out practical arrangements regarding your household and finances.

Separation

When cohabiting couples separate then there are still the same issues to resolve to resolve as there would be if you were married. But because you are not married then you will not have any legal rights. This is where you may want to seek the advice of a family lawyer to assist with what co-habitation options are. This is especially a good idea if you have not already drafted up a cohabitation agreement.

A Co-habitation agreement can be similar to a pre-nuptial agreement as it can safeguard your assets and future in the event of you and your partner separating.

Division of Assets

The division of your assets will always be difficult when you separate. It is not only an emotional time but you are both looking to head in new directions in your life. Having cohabitation agreements can clarify the division of assets ensuring a smoother separation.

You may have been in a relationship for many years and have emotional ties to your belongings. This is when drafting up a cohabitation agreement can ease this process. Try and aim for the division of assets to be as straightforward as possible.  Be objective and try to think logically about your assets. Do you really need it? How much did you realistically put into the purchase? What is your beneficial interest in property?

Mediation

If you cannot come to an amicable agreement then you may want to see a mediator. A mediator will assist with you both reaching cohabitation agreements, however remember that a mediator’s advice is not legally binding.  A mediator is there to independently offer help and advice. This can help and can save costs and time down the line.

How 1solicitors can help you explore options for a Cohabitation Agreement

Getting legal advice when you decide to live together will help to establish where you both stand financially. And in the unfortunate event that you may separate it is a good idea to have a living together agreement already in place.

1solicitors have a team of family lawyers who can assist with cohabitation agreements and will aim to draft an agreement up that is right for both of you.

We can assist to clearly set out the practicalities of any shared assets and also help when considering joint property ownership.  We will help to make the process as straightforward as possible for you.

If you would like to discuss drafting up a cohabitation agreement then you can call us on 0330 053 7117 or let us call you back.

Managing Partner of 1Solicitors, Ehsan Kabir discusses the issue of Cohabitation and how couples can attain rights with Stray FM. Click here to listen.

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