Cohabitation

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More and more people are choosing to live together without entering into marriage or civil partnership.

There is unfortunately no such thing as a “common law wife” or “common law husband” in English law.  Couples who choose to live together without getting married unfortunately do so without the benefit of matrimonial legislation - and there is no notion of ‘fairness’ or ‘reasonableness’ built in this area of law.

Unmarried couples rights…?

The rules of law that apply to determine the division of any assets of cohabiting couples when separating are the same as those that apply to two complete strangers who have lived under the same roof.  This includes same sex couples who choose not to register their relationship under a civil partnership agreement.

The myths

Cohabitation Agreement

As there is no specific legislation relating to cohabitation, any cohabitation agreement is governed by the laws of contract. Both parties must seek legal advice and supply full financial disclosure.  The agreement should deal with all of the couple’s property and financial issues. The conditions that are agreed between the parties can be held to be binding.

What should be included in a cohabitation agreement?

• Ownership of individual assets, properties, cars etc.

• Mortgage contributions.

• Payments of household bills.

• Bank accounts (whether joint or in sole name).

• Ownership of joint properties; joint tenants or tenants in common.

• Life insurance and nominations of death in service benefits.

• Gifts and inheritances.

• Powers of attorney.

• Children.

• Mutual Wills review and terminations.

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