A British Social Attitudes Survey, carried out by The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) in 2019, revealed that almost half of people in England and Wales mistakenly believed that unmarried couples who live together have a common law marriage and enjoy the same rights as couples who are legally married. Resolution have launched a campaign raising awareness about the basic rights for cohabiting couples and the importance of a cohabitation agreement.
What is a cohabitation agreement?
A cohabitation agreement is a legal document that is signed between unmarried couples who are living together. It sets out arrangements for finances, property, and children involved in the relationship while living together, identifying these elements in the instance where the unmarried couple may split up, become ill, or die.
This agreement can happen at any time. Ideally, it should be done before the couple moves in together, but it should also be taken into consideration if you have children or get a mortgage. Without a cohabitation agreement, you do not have any rights.
A cohabitation agreement can be completed with the help of a family law solicitor and can ensure that the document is legally binding.
How do cohabitation agreements differ from pre-nupts?
Cohabitations are similar to prenuptial agreements. They identify similar aspects; the main difference is that while they cover these aspects, they exclude anything to do with marital agreements or anything regarding a wedding or marriage because the couple is either not married yet, or have no intention of marrying.
Cohabitation agreements are often referred to as “no-nupts” because they identify who owns what in what proportion and also gives couples the freedom to set out how they intend to split their property and assets in the event that the relationship would end. They can be used in a more positive light and record how the relationship could potentially work. An example of this would be identifying who would pay the mortgage, pay for holidays, refurbishment and renovation of the property and whether they intend to take out life insurance or make a will.
Reasons behind a cohabitation agreement
An unmarried couple does not automatically have the same rights as married couples when it comes to finances and rights regarding some aspects of a relationship. This does not even apply when the couple has lived together for a long time and have children.
Therefore, a legal document like a cohabitation agreement can come in handy, alongside a will. If one party in the couple becomes seriously ill, dies or if the couple splits up, they will both be protected, and the other family members affected will also be legally protected.
A cohabitation agreement covers the following:
- A share of each others’ assets
- Access to each others’ state pension
- Next of kin rights in a medical emergency
For an outline of your cohabitation rights without an agreement, click here.
A cohabitation agreement can help you divide your expenditure on bills and other responsibilities while a couple is living together.
Cohabitation Agreement Solicitors
Living together is often viewed as a less formal arrangement than marriage, but it does have its pitfalls. Cohabiting couples have far less protection than married couples if they decide to split up. If you’re thinking of moving in with your other half, you might first want to know the following things. If you want to know a bit more, call us to arrange an informal chat.
All Russell & Russell’s family solicitors are specialists in their field and adhere to the Resolution code of conduct. They can guide you through the complexities of family law, helping you make the right decisions to ensure your and your family’s well-being.
Find out more by viewing our cohabitation page.