16th November 2023

More and more couples are choosing to live together without getting married. The number of unmarried couples living together has now doubled since the mid 1990s. Many assume that they will have the same rights as married couples if they separate. However, under English Law there is no such thing as ‘common-law’ marriage.
If a relationship breaks down where a couple are not married the Court has no power to divide the couples assets, instead the division of assets falls to Property Law. This means that if you live with your partner in a property owned in their sole name you may not be able to make any claim for a share in that property regardless of how long you have been together. Conversely, it also means that your partner may be able to make a claim against your property.
Where couples own the property jointly, this normally means the property will be divided 50:50 regardless of how much each party contributed towards the property unless a legal document is drawn up at the time the property is purchased to specific how the parties own the property.
The Law which governs the breakdown of relationships of Co-Habitants is extremely complex. You may be concerned that if you separate you will not be entitled to a share in a property you have financial contributed to. On the other hand, you may be worried that if you separate your partner may try and make a claim against your property that you have own in your sole name.
Because of the complexity of the law governing Cohabiting couples and the lack of certainty in relation to this many couples are choosing to enter into a Cohabitation Agreement to make it clear how any assets are to be divided upon separation.
What is a Cohabitation Agreement?
A Cohabitation Agreement sets out who owns what and in what proportions. The Agreement will set out how you intend to split your property, its contents, personal belongings, savings and other assets should your relationship break down. It can also state how your children will be looked after and how they will be financial supported. The agreement will also set out how any joint debts will be dealt with.
A Cohabitation Agreement can also set out how you and your partner will manage your day to day finances whilst you live together such as who will contribute to the rent or mortgage and the household bills. It can also set out whether you intend to take out life insurance policies for each other.
Is it legally binding?
Yes, provided it is prepared properly. The Agreement will need to be prepared by a Solicitor and both parties will need to seek independent legal advice. At Acclaimed Family Law we have expert Solicitors who can draw up a binding Co-Habitation Agreement for you. We will ensure that the Agreement is properly prepared and is signed as a Deed. We are then able to store the original document for you should you wish us to do so.
Our team can provide you with advice in relation to Cohabitation Agreements, Pre & Post Nuptial Agreements, Divorce, Children Issues & Financial Issues on separation

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