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Moving in together is a major milestone in any relationship; unfortunately, many couples don’t know about cohabitation agreements and don’t contact a solicitor until legal problems occur. A cohabitation agreement is a document that both of you sign and it sets out what will happen should you ever split up, a cohabitation agreement is much like a prenup however, it does not require you to be married. The law in England and Wales does not recognise couples living together as a legal partnership, this means that generally you do not have rights should you ever break up. A cohabitation agreement will help you plan ahead and establish legal rights that you would not otherwise have in a separation.
What is a cohabitation agreement?
These are also known as cohabitation deeds, cohabitation contracts or living together agreement. It serves as a record of the arrangement between two or more individuals who have chosen to live together. Living together here could be as a couple or otherwise. The agreement details the rights and responsibilities the respective parties have in regard to the property they inhabit or intend to inhabit.
The cohabitation agreement should help with any financial arrangements between the parties and dividing up any joint assets after the cohabitation ends. It can also be used as a record for any personal property that the cohabitants may have used or enjoyed during the course of their living together but which will be retained by a sole party at the end of such cohabitation.
This agreement is open to several parties but is mostly used by those who do not wish to formalise their relationship by way of a marriage or civil partnership., but do choose to live together. This can be implemented before or after the parties have started cohabiting.
There are a few circumstances that could spur the termination of a cohabitation agreement, including:
- The written agreement and consent of both parties
- The marriage or civil partnership of the parties to each other, or one party’s marriage to a third party
- The death of either party
- The serving of a notice by either party that they wish to terminate the agreement
How are cohabitation agreements executed?
These agreements are often executed more like a deed than a contract. This means the cohabitation agreement should not fail for mere fact of lack of consideration (the legal name for payment). Cohabitation agreements can also include a declaration of trust which serves as a record of the parties’ interests in any property they own together. Such declaration of trust needs to be declared in writing and our experienced solicitors can assist you with this.
How will it protect me?
Our solicitors are specialists in cohabitation agreements. At Grayfords we can draft a cohabitation agreement that is tailored to the specific needs of each of you and the requirements of your relationship. The agreement will protect you and your partner by setting out how you wish to deal with joint assets or finances should you break up, including how provisions will be made for your children. If you are not married cohabitation agreements set out how assets will be divided, it protects each partner from lengthy legal disagreements and gives each partner rights and responsibilities towards each other that they wouldn’t otherwise have. Moving in together is a big step; a process of learning and of course as your relationship changes so can your cohabitation agreement (with the consent of both parties).
Cohabitation Agreements are particularly useful for financial matters. Cohabitation agreements are designed around your relationship meaning we can usually make the agreement fit your current financial arrangements, making arrangements binding and giving you some security. Many couples who are not married choose to keep their finances separate, some couples prefer to keep their money in joint fashion; whatever is right for you getting a cohabitation agreement with give you both piece of mind and allow you to get on with building a life together. Grayfords have a long history of providing legal advice on financial matters in family law. Our expert team can advise on anything to do with cohabitation agreements including high asset issues, child matters and existing agreements.
Couples with children
Cohabitation agreements protect children should there ever be a separation; it sets out how your children will be provided for if you and your partner should separate (outside statutory child maintenance). A cohabitation agreement might give you piece of mind knowing, whatever happens between you and your partner, a plan has been made for your children’s futures. Grayfords are always here for parents who need advice about separation. If you are a couple who have children together and are considering a separation our family law specialists can advise you on contact, residency and maintenance. We can help you reach agreement with your partner and advocate on your behalf.