I'm Moving in with my Partner. Do I Need a Cohabitation Agreement?
Moving in with a partner is an exciting milestone in any relationship and a time typically filled with anticipation and joy as you start a new chapter together. However, amidst all the excitement, it's important to consider the legal aspects of cohabitation. It has become increasingly common to live with a partner without being married, therefore many couples are choosing to protect themselves by entering into a Cohabitation Agreement. In this article, we will explore why you might need a Cohabitation Agreement and what it should cover to ensure your rights and assets are safeguarded.
What is a Cohabitation Agreement?
Firstly, it's essential to understand what a Cohabitation Agreement is. A Cohabitation Agreement, also known as a living together agreement, is a legally binding document that sets out the rights and obligations of each partner in a cohabiting relationship. This contract can regulate the terms of your relationship and set out what will happen to your assets, finances, and family if you and your partner should separate. The agreement can also cover matters such as ownership of property, how household bills are paid, and what will happen to shared money and assets if the relationship breaks down. While it may not be the most romantic aspect of moving in together, it can provide much needed clarity and protection for both parties should the relationship end.
Why Should I Consider a Cohabitation Agreement?
A Cohabitation Agreement can offer crucial protection with regard to shared money and assets. Without a legal agreement, the law does not provide the same protections for cohabiting couples as it does for married couples or those in civil partnerships. In the unfortunate event of a relationship breakdown, a Cohabitation Agreement can specify how shared money, savings, investments, and assets will be divided. This can include anything from joint bank accounts and vehicles to personal belongings acquired during the relationship.
Although the Government is under increasing pressure from The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee to improve legal protections for unmarried couples by introducing a cohabitation scheme, draft legislation isn’t expected to be scrutinised in Parliamentary Session until 2024. As the law stands at the moment, there’s no legal definition of a cohabitee and therefore cohabiting couples have no legal protection.
What Can a Cohabitation Agreement Cover?
One of the key reasons why you might need a Cohabitation Agreement is to address the issue of property ownership. In the absence of a Cohabitation Agreement, the laws surrounding property ownership can be complex and uncertain. If one partner owns the property, the other partner may have no legal rights to it, regardless of how long they have lived together or how much they have contributed financially. A Cohabitation Agreement allows you to specify how the property ownership will be shared or what will happen to it in the event of a breakup.
Another important consideration is how household bills and expenses will be met. A Cohabitation Agreement can outline the financial arrangements between you and your partner, ensuring transparency and fairness. For example, you can agree on how the mortgage or rent will be paid, who will be responsible for utility bills, and how other living expenses will be divided. This helps avoid conflicts and misunderstandings in the future.
Moreover, a Cohabitation Agreement can address other important matters, such as child custody and financial support, if you have children together. While it's always best to consult with a family lawyer to ensure your Cohabitation Agreement is comprehensive and legally valid, having an agreement in place can provide peace of mind and avoid potential conflicts and disputes in the future.
It's also worth noting that a Cohabitation Agreement can be particularly valuable if you own assets of significant value, have children from previous relationships, or if there is a substantial difference in financial contributions between partners. By proactively addressing these issues, you can protect yourself and your partner's interests and ensure a fair outcome for both parties should the relationship end.
Get Legal Protection
If you are cohabiting, or thinking of cohabiting, and do not have such an agreement in place, it may be time to seek advice on how to protect yourself in the event of a separation. A Cohabitation Agreement will offer you the legal protection you would need should the worst happen, and can save an awful lot of time, money, and stress, in the long term. As a Cohabitation Agreement is essentially a legal document, it is advisable to have it drawn up by a solicitor.
As experts in Cohabitation Agreements, Vines Legal can provide expert advice and expertise on the matter. For a free initial consultation with our specialist family lawyers, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01246 555610.
By Vines Legal on 11 Jul 2023, 11:30 AM