An increase in the number of couples choosing to cohabit in the last 20 years has led to a rise in complex and often costly legal disputes when relationships break down.
Recent research highlighted that around 1 in 4 people living together think they have the same legal protections as married couples. Currently in England and Wales there are in excess of 3 million cohabiting couples and an estimated 10,000 same-sex couples not in a civil partnership.
The law in England and Wales does not recognise in any meaningful way relationship breakdowns of cohabiting couples. When a married couple divorce or a civil partnership is dissolved, both parties have a legal right to maintenance and a share of assets including property and inherited property. Cohabiting couples have no such rights regardless of the number of years they have cohabited and whether there are children involved.
As the law stands the only solution for cohabiting couples who want legal protection in case the relationship breaks down is to draw up a cohabitation agreement, also known as a living together agreement or a ‘no-nup’.
A Cohabitation agreement is a document which sets out who owns what and in what proportion. It can cover property and contents, personal belongings, savings and any other assets you wish to include. It can also cover how you will support your children over and above any legal requirement to maintain them as well as how you would deal with bank accounts, debts and joint purchases such as cars.
Cohabitation Agreements can also be used to set out how you and your partner will manage your day to day finances such as how much each person will contribute to the rent, mortgage or household bills. Once effected, a cohabitation agreement is a legally binding document having the full backing of the courts.
Hewitts can offer you advice and assistance in drawing up a cohabitation agreement giving you peace of mind and the knowledge that all of your affairs are in order. If you would like further information please contact a member of our team.