12th February 2024|In Latest News, Cohabitation

Cohabitation Rights & Agreements – Part 1 of 3 – Why Cohabitaåtion Agreements Are So Important

This blog series has been created to help navigate you through the legal complexities of living together outside marriage or civil partnership. Please bear in mind that this advice is intended for general information purposes only, and you should always consult a legal professional regarding your own situation. For personalised guidance from our family law experts, you can reach us on 0333 344 6302 or via email at info@blanchardslaw.co.uk

In the UK, 22% of couples who share a home are neither married nor bound by a civil partnership, representing the most rapidly expanding family structure. There is a prevalent misconception among such couples that after living together for a certain period they will gain rights equivalent to those of married couples or civil partners, often referred to as “common law marriage,”. This is false. No matter the length of the cohabitation or whether the couple has children, there is no automatic entitlement to financial support or property division for either individual if the relationship ends. This lack of entitlement includes both capital and maintenance.

This misunderstanding is a frequent source of complication and stress after a couple parts ways or if one partner passes away, and is one of the reasons we encourage the creation of clear cohabitation agreements.

A cohabitation agreement is a document between individuals who choose to live together without entering into marriage or a civil partnership. Although typically associated with romantic partners, it is also applicable to roommates, friends, and family members living together.

The purpose of cohabitation agreements is to establish clear guidelines and prepare for potential changes in circumstances. These agreements specify the handling of financial matters, property and arrangements concerning children during the cohabitation period, as well as provisions for separation or the event of one partner’s death.

Securing a cohabitation agreement, along with a will, provides clarity and protection for all parties, including next of kin and other family members. This is particularly valuable in instances of separation or death but also serves to delineate the sharing of household expenses and duties whilst living together.

It can be helpful to look at these agreements through the two most common perspectives:

  • Those individuals looking to protect their assets; the person initiating the agreement often possesses greater financial resources and seeks to prevent their partner from acquiring a legal claim to their property, akin to the intentions behind a prenuptial agreement.
  • Those seeking to secure an interest in these assets; the other common perspective is from the party making personal financial sacrifices during the relationship (such as putting their career on hold whilst raising children). Without the legal framework of marriage or a civil partnership, a cohabitation agreement is essential for providing this person with a layer of future security.

Cohabitation agreements can cover a broad range of details, such as:

  • The start date of living together.
  • Whether the non-owning party will have any claim to property.
  • How daily living costs will be divided.
  • The fate of personal effects and pets should the relationship conclude.
  • Any other considerations necessary for handling separation.

For more information on cohabitation rights and agreements, check out part 2 of this series.

Can we help you? Please call us on 0333 344 6302 or contact us through our enquiry form. All initial enquiries are free and without obligation.

Can we help you? Please call us on 0333 344 6302 or contact us through our enquiry form. All initial enquiries are free and without obligation.

Can we help you? Please call us on 0333 344 6302 or contact us through our enquiry form. All initial enquiries are free and without obligation.