Tag: Cohabitation

What is included in a cohabitation agreement?

Cohabiting couples do not have the same legal protection as married couples, but a cohabitation agreement can offer some protection.

A cohabitation agreement allows couples living together to agree their financial commitments and obligations to each other, to avoid disputes later down the line.

With more people than ever now choosing to cohabit, the lack of legal protection for cohabiting couples can make breakups fraught and messy.

To avoid stressful disputes, many cohabiting couples are now choosing to create a legal cohabitation agreement, to iron out the details about what would happen in the event of a relationship breakdown.

A cohabitation agreement gives couples the opportunity to discuss who owns what, how property and assets should be split, and how children will be supported, should they decide to part ways in the future.

Creating an agreement in advance usually results in fair and realistic decisions being made, which isn’t always the case in the midst of a relationship breakdown.

are a few things that you should sit down and discuss in detail before creating a cohabitation agreement.

Whilst you’re cohabiting:

  • Who owns what?
  • How will bills and living expenses be covered?

In the event of a separation:

  • How will your possessions and assets be divided?
  • How will property be divided?
  • Where would children live?
  • How will children be financially supported?
  • How would money in joint accounts be split?
  • How would overdrafts and debt be split?
  • Who owns each vehicle?

For a cohabitation to be legally binding, you will each need to be able to confirm that you have received independent legal advice and entered into the agreement voluntarily.

For help and advice with a cohabitation dispute or creating an agreement, get in touch with our team of specialists here at Lund Bennett Law by giving us a call on 0161 927 3118.

Is Law Failing To Keep Up With Cohabiting Couples?

Family Law organisation, Resolution, claim that the law is failing to give cohabiting couples the same protection as married couples.

With cohabiting couples now the fastest growing family type in the past two decades according to Office for National Statistics figures, little has been done to protect couples who separate. When married couples separate there are well established laws to fall back on which can help couples move on while cohabiting couples are left without any rights.

3.3 million families in the UK are now classed as cohabiting couple families which is double what it was twenty years ago. This indicates a real shift in society’s attitudes to marriage. It is becoming increasingly clear that a significant proportion of the population are deciding that cohabitation offers a more flexible arrangement. However, when problems arise as they often do in relationships, it becomes all too easy to leave the relationship.

Many cohabiting couples mistakenly believe that they will be entitled to the same treatment as married couples when there are disputes only to find that there isn’t. The myth of the ‘common law marriage’ often catches many couples out when they decide to explore their legal options.

Cohabitation is fastest growing relationship type

The latest figures released by the Office of National Statistics in their Household and Families Bulletin show that cohabitation remains the fastest growing relationship type. Whilst married couple families remain the most common family type, there are now 3.2 million cohabiting couple families in the UK, an increase of almost 30% in the last decade. Opposite sex cohabiting couple families now account for 17% of all families in the UK, described by the ONS as a statistically significant increase from 14% in 2005. Same sex cohabiting couples have also experienced an increase from 0.3% to 0.5% of all families.

Unfortunately, the majority of people who live together do not realise that cohabitation does not provide them with the same rights as married couples, however long they may have lived together. In a survey carried out by British Social Attitudes, 51% of respondents thought that unmarried couples who live together for some time probably or definitely had a “common law marriage” which gave them the same legal rights as married couples, but this is not the case. There is no such thing as common law marriage in England and Wales.

The rise in cohabitation together with the falling rate of marriage shows that cohabitation is here to stay and the law needs to reflect that. Resolution, the association of family lawyers, released a manifesto earlier this year calling on the Government to reform cohabitation law, amongst other things. There is currently a Cohabitation Rights Bill before Parliament but it is in its very early stages. It remains to be seen how the Government reacts to these latest figures and whether it takes any action to modernise the law.

Currently, if cohabitees want to protect themselves, they should seek advice on drawing up a Cohabitation Agreement setting out who owns what and how any assets are to be divided in the event of relationship breakdown.