Cohabiting Couples

Cohabitation Agreements

It’s a fact: Common law marriage does not exist.  So, if you are thinking of living together, it is wise to invest in a Cohabitation Agreement as, despite popular opinion, the courts do not offer cohabiting couples the same rights on separation as those who have been married.  A Cohabitation Agreement sets out what would happen in the event of the cohabitation coming to an end.  It takes into account the assets and debts of each party before the cohabitation and also the parental and financial responsibilities for any children.  It allows both parties to decide at the outset, what would happen if the relationship ends at a time when these decisions are not as controversial or emotionally charged as they could be at the point of separation.

When Cohabitation Comes to an End.

If there is no Cohabitation Agreement, deciding what happens when the relationship comes to an end can be a stressful and confrontational time.  Taking professional legal advice right at the start can ensure the process follows a constructive path and ensures you get the very best advice to protect your interests.

Although many couples want to deal with their financial decisions as if they are married, the law does not give cohabiting couples the same rights as those who are married.  Cohabiting couples can only make limited claims after separation.  Without marriage, for example, there is no possibility of claiming maintenance for the adults concerned or for claims relating to pensions and savings.

You will need to decide what happens to any property in joint ownership and it is possible to force the sale of property if necessary.  Where only one party owns a property, however, the situation is very different.

If the relationship involves children, it is possible to ask for a Court Order to ensure that the children remain in the family home with the primary carer while they are still at school.  In most cases couples can reach agreement about this without intervention, but if not, it may be necessary to go to court.

As experienced family lawyers, Harris & Harris can offer a range of options for negotiating an agreement regarding these matters and set out clearly what your rights are regarding property ownership and the division of assets. We can also help manage emotional arrangements concerning the care and maintenance of children.