A cohabitation agreement is a legal agreement that relates entirely to the relationship and what would happen if a relationship ended or broke down. Also known as a living together agreement or a no-nup, it focusses on how assets are owned and shared if a break-up was to happen. One of the major differences with this agreement in contrast to a marriage or civil partnership is its just that, an agreement between two parties. Unlike marriage or civil partnerships that have their own sets of legislation, a civil partnership is purely a contract between two parties, and as such is treated the same within the law.
What benefits come with having a cohabitation agreement?
As discussed, unlike marriage or civil partnership, cohabiting couples do not have any rights by default. The only way to gain any legal protection against a ‘common law marriage’ breakdown is to ensure a watertight agreement is in place. There are many benefits of ensuring this is drafted by a qualified and experienced solicitor including:
- One of the main assets within a partnership will generally be the home. A cohabitation agreement will expressly state the entitlement to each partners share and entitlement to the property. For example, after a relationship ends, a partner has no automatic entitlement to continue living there irrespective of any contributions to the mortgage and maintenance of the property, if the said property is owned by the other partner. This also applies if the property is jointly owned, as each partner receives a 50/50 split, again, irrespective of how much they have contributed to the mortgage or upkeep. A cohabitation agreement ensures that it can be legally defined who owns what in a situation where a relationship cannot continue.
- Breakups can be a stressful time for all involved, and the last thing needed by any party is the worry of a legal dispute, the worry of being asked to leave home, and everything that comes with this. A cohabitation provides a legal basis to ensure assets and rights are fairly administered, with peace of mind that this is in place throughout the relationship.
- Provisions can be made for the future, especially if one of the partners has been financially dependant on the other. In a marriage or a civil partnership, there is generally a right to maintenance payments for the partner after a breakup in this instance. A cohabitation agreement ensures that these rights can be put in place and agreed upon when a relationship becomes serious.
What’s the best route to forming an agreement?
Both parties need to have a conversation around the agreement, and the exact terms to be included. Our specialist Team at Holmes Family Law can then help you draw up a formal legal agreement to ensure your rights are represented in the event of the relationship ending. Both partners should ensure they receive legal advice surrounding their interests and rights to ensure the agreement covers.
Do you need a cohabitation agreement?
Our Expert and Friendly Team can advise you on agreements and your rights. We have provided cohabitation advice to hundreds of clients across the North-East of England. Call today on 0191 500 9337 or 01670 707338
What happens if I need to go to court?
At the end of the relationship, it may be necessary to go to court to ensure the agreement is followed. The court will consider the agreement as legally binding if both partners have agreed to the agreement, and each has received independent legal advice. The terms of the agreement also need to be considered ‘reasonable’ in relation to the personal situation of the couple.