When do couples need a cohabitation agreement?

Moving in together is an exciting time, a new chapter in a relationship. In the UK more modern-day families consist of couples cohabiting, with less couples choosing to marry. Couples are often surprised to learn that the law relating to the breakdown of their relationship is entirely different to the law governing the breakdown of a marriage.

What are the legal implications for non-married couples who separate?

As there is no such thing as the common law spouse there are no real protections for cohabiting couples that decide to part ways. Often, couples are surprised to learn the vulnerable position they find themselves in, which adds to an already stressful time in their lives. For those who are considering cohabiting, an understanding of their legal position and what their options are if their relationship breaks down is important.

What is a cohabitation agreement?

Couples who are considering moving in together can put in place a cohabitation agreement.  This agreement is entirely flexible to the particular circumstances and can cover things such as:

  • What is to happen to any property;
  • Who will pay the mortgage and the bills;
  • What will happen if there are children of the family;
  • What happens to any pets; and
  • How to deal with any finances.

The agreement will make it clear what you both agree will happen in the event of a relationship breakdown; and allows couples to decide what is fair without the emotional toll of a relationship breakdown influencing decisions at the time. The clarity of a couples agreed way forward is the starting point, should there be a dispute at the time of the relationship breakdown.

In what situations would a cohabitation agreement help?

While all cohabiting couples would benefit from a cohabitation agreement, due to the lack of legal protections, there are some circumstances where a cohabitation agreement is even more important:

  • One party is moving into another parties home that they solely own;
  • Parties are going to be contributing different amounts to a mortgage/bills;
  • If a family member is assisting in buying property for a cohabiting couple; or
  • Your circumstances change such as starting a family.

The implications of the above scenarios when a cohabiting couple decides to part ways can leave one party financially vulnerable.

How can our cohabitation solicitors help?

Our team of cohabitation lawyers has a wealth of experience and can help advise you on the key things to consider before taking the exciting leap of moving in together. We can provide you with the advice you need to make the best financial decisions for your relationship and draft the documents you need to embody the agreement you and your partner have reached. Please do contact us if you would like to discuss your needs.