Cohabitation Agreements (or contracts) allow unmarried couples to decide what should happen to their income and assets during their relationship and if they separate. Unlike married couples, there is no specific legislation setting out how unmarried couples’ property is to be dealt with on separation. Cohabitation Agreements can remove uncertainty and ensure the treatment of assets is fair both during the relationship and in the event it comes to an end. Without such an agreement, a couple can be left in a situation which may not be anybody’s fault, but which may be costly to resolve.
1. Establish your entitlement
If you move into a property owned by your partner, you have no automatic rights with respect to the property, even if you contribute to the mortgage whilst living there.
In the absence of a cohabitation agreement and/or Deed of Trust, if you buy a property together, your ownership will be assumed to be 50:50 irrespective of how much each of your contributes to the mortgage and other bills.
A Cohabitation Agreement allows you to make each partner’s legal entitlement clear so you do not end up feeling you have been treated unfairly if you do separate.
If you purchased the property with the help of a loan from your parents (or another third party), a Cohabitation Agreement and/or Deed of Trust would enable you to protect this contribution.
2. Make life easier if you do split up
The end of any relationship can be emotional, stressful and confusing. A Cohabitation Agreement can make the process of separating much simpler by making each partner’s rights and responsibilities clear. This can reduce the risk of falling out over financial matters and prevent the need for legal action to resolve any disputes.
3. Protect your future and your children’s future
A Cohabitation Agreement can allow you to specify a financial settlement and maintenance payments for the children if you do separate, allowing you time to make arrangements for your future and your children’s future.
4. Reduce the risk for conflict when living together
A Cohabitation Agreement can also set out what will happen when you are living together and doesn’t just have to cover the potential end of your relationship. For example, it can state how much each of you will contribute to your mortgage, bills and other financial commitments. It would also allow you to specify who will be responsible for debts etc. By having this agreed up front, it reduces the potential for disagreement later on.
5. Save money on legal costs if you separate
Although there is a cost involved in the preparation of a Cohabitation Agreement in the first instance, it has the potential to save you money if your relationship ends. A Cohabitation Agreement avoids the costs and uncertainty of litigation. Therefore, creating a Cohabitation Agreement is an expense worth paying for.
Gregg Latchams Family Team in Bristol and London has many years experience in dealing with unmarried couples. We can help you create a Cohabitation Agreement that effectively protects your interest when living with a partner and in the event your relationship ends.