Cohabitation Agreements

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Cohabitation Agreements
Cohabitation Agreements
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A cohabitation agreement is a legal contract between unmarried couples who reside together but are not in a formal marriage or civil partnership.

As more couples opt for cohabitation over marriage, the prevalence of cohabitation agreements, also referred to as living-together agreements, is on the rise.

The legal rights of individuals in cohabiting relationships differ significantly from those in marriages. While laws provide legal protection and clarity for married couples, no such provisions extend to unmarried partners.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no concept of common-law marriage or rights for common-law spouses. For instance, if you reside in your partner’s sole-owned property and later separate, you may not inherently have a legal claim to their property. A cohabitation agreement can offer protection in such scenarios.

At DLS Solicitors, our nationwide team of solicitors specialising in cohabitation agreements can assist with:

  • Assessing whether a cohabitation agreement suits your circumstances
  • Drafting a cohabitation agreement
  • Reviewing and modifying existing cohabitation agreements

Our clients hail from various regions in the UK and overseas. With extensive expertise, we provide support in navigating complex financial arrangements and resolving contentious issues and disputes related to cohabitation.

What is a cohabitation agreement?

Cohabitation agreements, also known as living together agreements, are contracts entered into by unmarried couples who are currently living together or plan to do so.

The primary purpose of a cohabitation agreement is to define the rights and responsibilities of both parties concerning their property, finances, and assets. It serves to document key details about each partner’s position and outlines arrangements to be followed in the event of a relationship breakdown.

In certain instances, cohabitation agreements may also address additional considerations, such as arrangements for any children within the relationship and plans for coparenting in the future.

Cohabitation agreements in the UK are customised documents tailored to the specific circumstances of the couple. The provisions outlined in the agreement reflect the couple’s preferences and the actions they wish to take during and after their cohabitation.

Why do I need a cohabitation agreement?

If you’re moving in with a partner and wish to safeguard your financial interests in case the relationship ends, a cohabitation agreement is highly advisable.

Unlike married couples, cohabiting couples do not benefit from legal protections. Therefore, upon relationship dissolution or the death of one partner, cohabiting couples are considerably more vulnerable. A cohabitation agreement offers a level of protection in such circumstances.

If you reside in a property owned or rented solely by your partner, without any prior agreements or understandings, you lack automatic rights to remain if asked to vacate.

While courts have authority to address property rights in divorce cases, they can only determine property ownership and distribution for unmarried couples based on actual contributions and intentions.

The initial consideration typically revolves around whose name appears on the property deeds. If your name isn’t listed, the situation becomes intricate, and there are no inherent rights to residency or a share in property proceeds upon sale. Establishing actual contributions and original intentions can be challenging in separation scenarios.

In the absence of prior agreements, your partner may retain all savings and possessions in their name. In cases where joint purchases were made with unequal contributions, ownership corresponds to the proportion of each individual’s input, though proving this can be complex.

A cohabitation agreement, also known as a living together agreement, holds particular significance for couples purchasing property jointly, operating a business together, or planning to have children. Additionally, individuals with prior marriage and divorce experiences may seek to protect assets held solely in their name through such agreements. In all circumstances, a cohabitation agreement serves as a valuable tool.

What can you include in a cohabitation agreement?

A cohabitation agreement serves as a platform for couples to document their intentions and outline their respective contributions. The specific terms included in the agreement are determined by the parties involved, but typically encompass details such as:

  • Property owned prior to cohabitation, particularly if you plan to reside together in that property and jointly contribute to mortgage payments.
  • Property or possessions acquired after moving in together, whether purchased jointly or individually, and how ownership is perceived.
  • Household expenses, specifying responsibilities for various expenses.
  • Children and plans for co-parenting in the event of a relationship breakdown.

The agreement must be meticulously crafted and comprehensive, confirming the parties’ intent to establish legal relations to ensure its enforceability. Regarding property matters, parties may be advised to draft a deed of trust outlining ownership and respective beneficial interests in the home.

Speak to our cohabitation agreement solicitors today

If you believe a cohabitation agreement would be advantageous in your current situation, it’s essential to grasp the available options. Our team of cohabitation solicitors is here to assist you in navigating these choices.

To schedule a free 30-minute consultation with our cohabitation solicitors, please contact us at 01625 460281 or fill out our contact form.

For a thorough evaluation of your circumstances and the appropriateness of a cohabitation agreement, we offer a detailed case assessment priced at £500 plus VAT. Further details about this service can be found here.

Are cohabitation agreements legally binding?

In the UK, a cohabitation agreement can be legally binding if drafted correctly, both parties receive independent legal advice on its content, and it is signed as a deed.

It is crucial that both parties seek legal advice from a qualified family lawyer before finalising the terms of a cohabitation agreement. Additionally, it is advisable to review the agreement if significant changes occur, such as having children, receiving a substantial inheritance, or experiencing a financial windfall.

What happens if one party stops abiding by the cohabitation agreement?

Once a cohabitation agreement is established, neither party can unilaterally disregard the agreed-upon arrangements.

Similar to prenuptial agreements, cohabitation agreements come into effect if a couple separates, outlining the disposition of their property, finances, and assets.

Courts will uphold a cohabitation agreement provided that both parties received independent legal counsel before signing, the terms are equitable for both parties, and the agreement accurately reflects their circumstances.

If you require guidance on the suitability of an existing cohabitation agreement, please contact us today.

How much does a cohabitation agreement cost?

The cost of creating a cohabitation agreement can vary based on your specific needs and the complexity of the arrangements involved.

Our experienced cohabitation lawyers offer cohabitation agreement services starting at approximately £1,500, with pricing adjusted according to the complexity of the agreement.

Does a cohabitation agreement still stand if you get married?

There can be confusion regarding the validity of a cohabitation agreement after a couple marries. Ultimately, whether the cohabitation agreement remains valid post-marriage depends on its specific terms.

If you wish to establish provisions for managing finances during marriage, it might be advisable to convert your cohabitation agreement into a prenuptial agreement for your best interests.

How does a cohabitation agreement differ from a prenuptial agreement?

Cohabitation agreements and prenuptial agreements are both available to unmarried couples and serve to outline arrangements in case the relationship ends. However, there are key distinctions between the two that you should understand.

The primary difference is that prenuptial agreements are designed for couples who are either about to marry or plan to marry soon. In contrast, cohabitation agreements are more suitable for couples who are living together without immediate plans for marriage.

Furthermore, cohabitation agreements establish rights for cohabiting partners that are not automatically granted to unmarried couples, similar to those enjoyed by married couples. On the other hand, prenuptial agreements are tailored to create a customised arrangement that deviates from typical divorce proceedings.

Can you change the terms of an existing cohabitation agreement?

The terms of a cohabitation agreement are not rigid and should remain adaptable to changing circumstances. As every couple’s situation evolves over time, it’s prudent to review and potentially revise the cohabitation agreement at regular intervals.

Significant life events may necessitate a review and amendment of a cohabitation agreement. For instance, events such as having a child, one party’s salary increase, inheritance receipt, or a partner’s illness could all warrant modifications to the terms of an existing cohabitation agreement.

Can I create a DIY cohabitation agreement?

There are online cohabitation agreement templates available, and many individuals we encounter inquire about preparing their own cohabitation agreement to streamline the process and reduce costs.

However, this approach is unlikely to be suitable. Cohabitation agreements are legal documents that require specific drafting and customisation based on individual circumstances.

For a cohabitation agreement to hold up in court, it is crucial that each partner receives independent legal advice on the agreement’s terms.

We're here for you

If you are considering establishing a cohabitation agreement or seeking further advice on how such an agreement could benefit you and your partner, our experienced solicitors are available to provide support and guidance.

To schedule a complimentary 30-minute telephone consultation to discuss your circumstances, please contact us on 01625 460281 or fill out our online form.

Additionally, our cohabitation agreement solicitors offer a comprehensive case assessment for £500 plus VAT. This assessment includes an opportunity to consult with an experienced cohabitation agreement lawyer, receive tailored advice on your options, and discuss your case in detail.

From the start to finish we were made to feel welcome every time and we had an appointment with Danielle Shawcross and her team. Whatever points we didn't understand the team did their utmost efforts to help us.
Barry Hadfield

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