It is common belief that there is something called a “common law spouse”, this however is not true. This popular misbelief leads cohabiting couples to incorrectly believe “common law marriage” exists and applies when splitting finances after the end of a relationship.

What is a cohabitation agreement?

In the unfortunate event you relationship ends, a cohabitation agreement is a document that will set out joint matters and how they will be dealt with, such as:

  • Supporting your children, over and above any legal duty
  • How finances will be split, e.g debts, joint purchases, bank accounts
  • Describing who owns which asset

If you are not married to your partner, this type of agreement will protect your interest in the event you relation breaks down.

Will my cohabitation agreement be legally binding?

You must intent to give legal force to the terms within the agreement for it to hold a strong basis in UK law, stating this intent within the agreement can be beneficial. The cohabitation agreement will have to be “executed as a deed”, then signed in the presence of witnesses.

Even if following the above, it is important to note the Court might not recognise you cohabitation agreement as legally binding if they deem the terms to be unfair.

If you want to increase the chance of of the UK law finding your cohabitation agreement legally binding it is advisable for you and your partner to seek legal advice ensuring you are both upfront about your financial situations prior to entering into an agreement.

How do I draw up a cohabitation agreement?

An advisable starting point is to discuss and agree who owns what and how, in the event of the relationship ending, how you and your partner would like to split assets.

After the above has been agreed you should then appoint a family law solicitor to draw up the agreement. If you and your partner are agreed upon the contents of what the solicitor has included in the agreement, the terms of the deed, then both of you should sign the document in the presence of witnesses.

Should I update my cohabitation agreement?

Situations can often change in time, therefore things may change that could potentially lead to your original cohabitation agreement being seen as unfair, due to this redrafts are common. You may want to redraft you agreement if:

  • There has been changes in you finances, such as a job change or receiving inheritance
  • There has been a birth of a child
  • Illness
  • Redundancy

If I get married to my partner will my cohabitation agreement protect me?

In the event you marry your partner it is advised to create and agree with your partner on a prenuptial contract, the Courts will not treat our cohabitation agreement as a prenuptial agreement and therefore you may not be protected.

Me and my partner want to draw up a cohabitation agreement, what should we do?

It is strongly advised to obtain legal advice when drawing up a legally binding cohabitation agreement.

If you wish to discuss your needs and requirements further we can tailor the support and advice we give for you. We also can advise on and select the best suited solicitor for the job. Call us today.

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