A cohabitation agreement can often be seen as unromantic but are somewhat important to avoid uncertainty and lengthy legal costs. Our cohabitation agreement lawyers often describe as a form of insurance.
With cohabitation on the rise and marriage on the decline families that have doubled from 1.5 million families in 1996 to 3.3 million families in 2017.
If you have found the perfect life partner and marriage isn’t yet on the cards then a cohabitation agreement is something that should be carefully considered.
What is Cohabiting?
Cohabiting is an alternative to marriage. So what is cohabiting? Cohabiting is where couples live together in a sexual relationship whilst not being married. Many couples often cohabitate to test their relationship compatibility before they enter into a marriage. It is important to note that the legal rights of a cohabiting couple differ from those who are married.
Why do couples choose to cohabitate?
One of the main reasons for cohabitation is that a couple wants to test their relationship before considering marriage. Cohabitation allows a couple to live together under one roof in a relationship which is similar to being married. Many people want to test whether their interest in their partner can hold against day to day problems. By cohabiting, a couple can test their compatibility.
Many people also choose to cohabitate for convenience. Cohabitation allows a couple to share living expenses rather than pay alone. This includes sharing accommodation and utility costs as well as the costs of daily living. Couples may also choose to cohabitate to increase intimacy in their life. Couples who do not live together may not be able to be as intimate as they like. A couple who cohabitate can also build on their sexual intimacy through this arrangement.
Why many are choosing to cohabitate instead of marriage?
One of the main reasons for choosing to cohabitate instead of marriage is the costs associated with marriage. Many people quite simply are unable to afford a marriage. Planning and executing a wedding can be expensive. It includes the costs of venues and wedding dresses amongst others. People often see cohabitation as a cheaper option to marriage where they just move in together without the costs of the marriage.
People are often afraid of marriages ending in divorce. Many people often want to ensure the person they live with is the right person for them. If they were to marry and arguments arise it could lead to divorce. You often hear or see in the media about celebrity divorces and fall out. Ending a marriage could cause emotional and financial stress and may turn out hostile. In this day and age divorce can cause a financial burden on couples. In order to separate from a marriage, you will need to obtain a divorce and possibly settle any finances. This could incur huge legal costs and time. Whereas a cohabitation can end at any time without the need of any legal hassle.
Couples who divorce have the right to claim against the other’s assets. Whereas cohabiting couples have no such rights as yet in English law. If one partner owns the property but both live together then upon divorce, they both have rights to the property. In contrast for cohabitation the party who doesn’t own the property may not obtain such rights. Cohabitation can therefore also be seen as protecting a persons financial position when compared to marriage.
What is a cohabitation agreement?
A cohabitation agreement is a legal agreement put in place for couples who live together whilst they are not married. This is also known as a cohabitants agreement or a cohabitation contract. The agreement allows you to enter into a legally binding contract between you as a couple. Cohabitation agreements can cover many terms and decisions such as:
- Who shall pay for the upkeep and bills in a property, and how
- Who owns a share in a property and in what proportions
- What will happen in the event of a separation
- Who shall pay certain debts
It is a contract which allows a couple to agree its terms and responsibilities arising from cohabiting together.
What are the benefits of a cohabitation agreement?
Under English law, unmarried or cohabiting couples have no rights if they separate. This could have serious implications on a partner who is financially weaker due to looking after the home or any children from the relationship. This often leads to financial difficulties and negative impact on any children involved. In such instances a cohabitants agreement is very beneficial.
The agreement allows couples to decide on the terms of their separation. It provides certainty to a relationship knowing what each partner will be entitled to in the case of a separation.
The cohabitation contract is also legally binding and recognised in the English court. Therefore, once this has been entered into there is no turning back. The courts will ensure the terms of the agreement have been complied with.
Cohabitation agreements can be a tool to avoid conflict. Such agreements could contain on your responsibilities and rights when living together and not just on separation. Having an agreement in place can limit any disagreements as each partner is aware of what their responsibilities are.
A cohabitation agreement can save money if the relationship ends. By having an agreement in place there is usually no need for legal action when the relationship ends. You can avoid paying huge legal costs on separation by having an agreement in place.
How soon can a cohabitation agreement be prepared?
A cohabitation agreement can be entered into at any time. Either when you are deciding to move in together or whether you have been living together for a few years. In order to enter into a cohabitation agreement you should seek advice from a family law adviser. An adviser will be able to discuss your options with you and place a value on your assets which need protection.
The length of time it can take to prepare a cohabitation agreement depends on individual circumstances. If a couple is able to agree on terms amicably the process can be relatively quick and straightforward. The agreement however may take time to prepare if changes are required or the terms cannot be prepared.
If you are looking to enter into a cohabitation agreement then contact us today for a free initial consultation. We can consider your circumstances and advise you on the process of entering into a legally binding agreement.
Can you write your own cohabitation agreement?
It is important to note that a couple can agree the terms of a cohabitation agreement between them. However for the agreement to be binding it must be formally drawn up into a deed. Therefore although an agreement can be made on your own you will need legal assistance to ensure it is recorded formally. The agreement will also need to be witnessed to ensure it is enforceable.
Contact our cohabitation agreement specialists today
With family lawyers in Newcastle as well as York, London and Oxford we can provide you with advise and assistance on cohabitation and assist you in preparing a cohabitation agreement to protect your interest and secure your future.