National Legal Service – Protecting couples through cohabitation agreements
Many cohabiting couples believe that they are protected under ‘common law’, with the same legal protection as is provided for married couples during separation or divorce. The truth is that, in England, there are no laws that offer cohabitees this level of legal protection, even if they have lived together for years. This means that should the relationship break down, the allocation of shared assets could become quite complex.
As relationship length is not taken into consideration for couples who have not married, there is no legally binding procedure for splitting property or possessions, or claiming spousal support, in the event of a separation. Cohabitation specialists often urge couples to enter into a cohabitation agreement when they first move in together, ensuring that both parties are well protected should their relationship status change in the future.
A cohabitation agreement is usually drawn up by dedicated cohabitation specialists based on the personal circumstances and preferences of the couple. The document outlines pre-agreed plans for splitting property, possessions, and finances to prevent either party being left in an uncertain or financially vulnerable position following a split.
Cohabitation agreements are designed with the best interests of both parties in mind. For example, if one partner owns the property in which they both live, the agreement can ensure that this partner retains ownership under the dissolution of the relationship. However, if the other partner has financially contributed towards household and property related costs, this will be taken into consideration to protect the other party.
National Legal Service’s cohabitation lawyers can advise on what terms and conditions should be included for each couple. Standard cohabitation agreements often include:
● Ownership of the property in which the couple lives
● Shares in any property purchased jointly
● Living arrangements for shared property
● Financial responsibilities for household costs and property maintenance
● Financial responsibilities for shared debts
● Whether spousal support will be paid following separation
● Nominations for financial benefits in the case of the death of one partner
Act now to protect yourself in the future
Separations can be stressful and difficult even without the worry of trying to split assets and maintain financial stability. Add in these additional complexities, and it may sometimes be necessary to involve the courts, which can be a costly endeavour. At National Legal Service, our cohabitation lawyers view court proceedings as a last resort, believing that, with the right cohabitation agreement, separations can be simple and straightforward, with both parties clear on what is expected of them during the process.
If you’re preparing to move in with your partner, or you’re already living together without a cohabitation agreement, speak to one of our cohabitation lawyers. Call the National Legal Service team on 0203 601 5051, or you can request a consultation online.