If you and your partner are intending to set up home together or are already living together, you should think carefully about setting up a Living Together Agreement, sometimes also known as a Cohabitation Agreement.
This is a formal written agreement for couples who choose to live together but not to marry or enter into a Civil Partnership. No one wants to think negatively at the beginning of a relationship; however it can bring maturity to a relationship by talking through these issues openly at the outset and can save a lot of time, money and stress in the long run if the situation should ever change.
The importance of Living Together Agreements
It’s also important to understand that, should the relationship break down in the future, cohabiting couples have no legal status as the law presently stands. Contrary to belief in England and Wales there is no such thing as a ‘common law spouse’ and, if couples separate, they must rely on complex property and trust law to establish who owns what.
Good reasons why you should consider a Living Together Agreement:
- It will help to protect your finances by clarifying financial commitments, working out how income and expenditure responsibilities are to be shared
- It is sensible when only one of you owns the home you both intend to share
- If you buy your house together, a Trust Deed can make clear your plans for mortgage payments, your respective shares in the property and how the proceeds of a future sale should be divided should you separate or one of you die
- It allows you to look ahead and put in place contingency plans for unexpected events such as children, separation, long-term illness or death
- There is some financial protection for the children of unmarried couples; however couples with children or thinking of having children outside marriage should seriously consider taking legal advice
- Discussing what goes into a living together agreement can be emotionally difficult but can bring a maturity to the relationship by talking through major decisions
Living Together Agreements and the law
Right now a Living Together Agreement is not enforceable or binding by law, but judges are increasingly placing weight on the contents of Living Together Agreements when they are given in evidence in court following a breakdown in the relationship. If both of you share information honestly, and both get independent legal advice on the Agreement, then there is a much better chance that the courts will hold each party to their side of the bargain.
It is also advisable for couples who live together to make Wills because, without one, any assets owned by you will go to your next of kin and not to your partner.
We welcome informal telephone enquiries and all initial calls are handled by one of the team so that from an early stage the person most suited to your particular needs can be identified.
Please contact a member of our Family team on 01256 460830.