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Cohabitation

Dispelling the myth of the ‘common law husband and wife’ is still something which can be difficult to do.

 

To avoid misunderstandings and to manage expectations, we can advise on the making of a Cohabitation Agreement, sometimes called a ‘Living together Agreement’. These can cover property, other capital assets, pensions and arrangements for the children. These are drawn up when the parties are in a relationship in anticipation of a situation where the relationship breaks down.

 

The document helps to regulate the arrangements for the family and family finances if the parties separate.

 

Advice offered will cover:

  • The perception of a ‘Cohabitation Agreement’ by the courts and their legal status

  • The advantages and disadvantages of making such an agreement

  • The requirements for creating a document and the costs associated.

The reality is that people who simply live together do not have the same rights in law as those who are married. Neither of you have any financial claims against the other as of right. Living together does not give you legal status.

Factors such as who owns the property, or whether there is a child from the relationship, need to be considered. The law will often not give any protection to one party who comes to the relationship with nothing.

Cohabitation Agreements

These are so important. They are legally binding and provide clarification on how certain assets are to be divided should the relationship fail. Similar to pre or post-nuptial agreements, they have many advantages. These include:

  • Save costs of lengthy negotiations between solicitors

  • Provide clarity and certainty as it records how you own property and what happens to that property if you separate

  • Avoid arguments arising in the first place as everyone knows where they stand and allows people to focus on enjoying the relationship

  • Can cover arrangements for children - in particular, financial arrangements

If there is no cohabitation agreement and the relationship ends, in situations where you have been unable to reach an agreement, a court application will need to be made to resolve the situation. These proceedings are dealt with under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA). The court will have the power to deal with all the following:

  • The sale of property or land, but not a transfer

  • Where parents or grandparents are asking to recover money they may have invested in a property

  • Where it is necessary, to determine how the property is shared

  • Whether there are minor children of the family whose needs will need to be taken into account. In these situations, an application under Schedule 1 of the Children Act may also be filed, and advice should be taken regarding this.

For more information, or to book an appointment, call 01325 804751 or email donna@donnasandallfamilylaw.co.uk​

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