Cohabitation

Signature Law LLP assists many cohabiting couples. Some wish to draw up a cohabitation agreement to clarify the ownership of shared assets. Others seek practical advice and legal assistance after a relationship has broken down or a partner has died.

As the marriage rate in England and Wales continues to decline, the number of unmarried, but cohabiting couples continues to rise. Currently, if a cohabiting couple’s relationship breaks down, there is no law in place tailored to their needs and any children they may have together. In the event of a property dispute, trust and land law is applied.

Cohabitation Agreements

If you do not wish to marry your partner, or cannot do so, you should consider taking steps to ensure that your partner and any children will be provided for, should anything unexpected happen.

Consult a solicitor at Signature Law LLP, to ensure that a cohabitation agreement is correctly drafted and given full legal effect.

For example, if you are about to purchase a property with a new partner, it is essential that before the purchase takes place, ownership of that property is agreed and reflected in an appropriate declaration of trust. As former cohabitees, have discovered to their cost, raising arguments about what may or may not have been agreed years before is unlikely to sway the court without the clearest evidence in support.

Whenever we assist our clients with cohabitation agreements at Signature Law LLP, we also make additional recommendations to safeguard our clients’ assets and intentions. For example, we recommend that every cohabiting client makes a will and insures his or her life. The latter is especially important if you are a financial provider, with dependents or other financial obligations.

Relationship Breakdown for Cohabiting Couples

It is important to understand that cohabitees, no matter how long they have been living as husband or wife, are not afforded the same rights upon the breakdown of the relationship as those which arise on divorce. Sadly, the current law does not recognise “common law spouses.”

As a result, the breakdown of a relationship can have serious financial consequences for a dependent cohabitee. There is no maintenance, and no automatic entitlement to make property, capital or pension claims. The children of such a relationship may be left at a financial disadvantage.

There are, however, some remedies, for instance, applications may be made on behalf of the children under the Children Act 1989.