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Cohabitation Agreement Solicitors UK: Cohabitation & Living Together Agreements

 

Our Cohabitation Agreement Solicitors offer specialist advice to unmarried couples about establishing their rights within the law on matters relating to assets and children.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is a legal document which allows unmarried couples who live together to establish legal rights about how assets would be shared and how children will be provided for if the relationship breaks down. The family lawyers at Lanyon Bowdler are specialists in drafting Cohabitation Agreements and can guide you through the process from start to finish.

The myth of common law marriage.

There is a common misconception that couples living together have the same legal rights as married couples, often referred to as “common law marriage”.

In actual fact, common law marriage ceased to exist as a legal term in 1753 - more than 250 years ago!

That means there are thousands of couples living together in the UK who have no legal protection if the relationship breaks down. They also have no responsibility for acting as next of kin, no inheritance rights and no legal agreement about the division of child maintenance or shared assets if they separate.

Do I need a cohabitation agreement?

If you and your partner are living together, or are about to move in together, but do not plan to get married or enter into a civil partnership, it makes sense to draw up a cohabitation agreement.

It is the only way to legally agree on the share of any joint assets and liabilities you have.

In England and Wales, there is no legal protection for cohabiting couples.  This can leave individuals financially vulnerable in the event of a separation or the death of a partner.

Being clear about each person’s rights and responsibilities in the event of a break-up ensures that both parties are treated fairly.  The contributions each party makes to the household become deeply entwined over time, and a cohabitation agreement will help sort everything out should you ever decide to separate.

A cohabitation agreement ensures that there is no uncertainty over who gets what. It can also provide a level of security for couples who share large assets such as houses and businesses.

Drafting a Cohabitation Agreement

As with many legal documents, drafting a cohabitation agreement can be complex and confusing so it’s essential to talk to a specialist solicitor at the outset. The agreement can actually be quite informal in nature and putting it together needn’t be too onerous, but it’s important to get it right.

A cohabitation agreement can cover a whole range of topics, typically including:

  • Income: such as whether you and your partner place your income into a joint bank account.
  • Inheritance and wills: do you want to include your partner in your will?
  • Children: if you have children, how will you provide for them if you separate?
  • Property: how will you divide the property acquired during your relationship, and any property you each acquired before your relationship, should your relationship end?
  • Duration: how long would you like the agreement to last?

We understand that drafting a cohabitation agreement can be seen by some couples as somewhat daunting and rather unromantic. Rest assured, our family law solicitors are very experienced and work in an approachable, sensitive way, to ensure that the process is as hassle-free as possible.

What is included in a Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement typically covers your joint assets like property, savings, vehicles and valuable possessions, joint debts like a mortgage, loans and credit cards, and even pet ownership. Important things to include in a cohabitation agreement are:

  • Property you owned before moving in together
  • Property you purchased after moving in together with information about who contributed what
  • Joint savings
  • Joint debts
  • Child arrangements
  • Pet ownership
  • Valuable item ownership (a piano, sofa, gym equipment etc)

When unmarried couples buy a property together.

It is common, particularly for first time buyers, to pool financial resources with a close friend or partner in order to buy a property.

According to the ONS, cohabiters are the fastest growing type of family structure and a steep rise in the number of cohabiting couples submitting joint mortgage applications was seen in 2020 according to the Mortgage Advice Bureau.

There are a variety of ways in which this can be done effectively and it's up to you how you choose to go about it. The property can be owned solely or jointly, in equal or non-equal shares.

Other questions you should consider are:

  • Do you both have an equal deposit to contribute?
  • Are you both bringing furniture?
  • Will you buy new furniture together?
  • Who will pay any monthly mortgage repayments?
  • Who will pay for the household bills?

When buying a property together, one of the major decisions unmarried couples have to make is whether to register with the Land Registry as joint tenants or as tenants in common.

As joint tenants, you will both own the property equally - there are no separate, identifiable shares.

As tenants in common, you each own separate identifiable shares in the property. These may be equal or unequal shares depending on what makes sense for you.

If your partner is moving into a property you own, the cohabitation agreement could include a statement from the non-owning partner saying that they understand that they will not be gaining a financial interest in the property despite any payments they make, or any work they do on it.

Your decisions here could have an impact on what happens in the unfortunate event of one partner passing away, so it’s important to seek advice from an experienced Cohabitation Agreement Solicitor specific to your unique circumstances.

Declaration of Trust.

A Declaration of Trust is a legally binding document that shows the financial arrangements and any other agreements made between joint property owners at the time of purchase. It is not required by law, but it makes the shares of ownership much more transparent and easier to resolve if things change in the future. The key things to include in a deed of trust are how much money has been invested, and what percentage of the property each person will own. If the couple separates in the future the deed of trust will dictate how the proceeds are divided.

Contact the Cohabitation Agreement Solicitors at Lanyon Bowdler.

If you have any questions about cohabitation agreement law, please get in touch with the team who will happily discuss how we can help.

Lanyon Bowdler was one of the first law firms in the area to introduce a range of flexible pricing options, such as fixed fees and service level guarantees, because we feel it’s important to be open and transparent about how much our services will cost.

Please give us a call for a friendly, confidential, chat about how we can help support you when you or your family need legal advice and representation. Please contact a member of the team or complete our online enquiry form on the right hand side of this page.

By choosing Lanyon Bowdler for family law legal advice, you can rest assured that you have the best legal expertise on hand no matter what the situation. We are committed to providing exceptional levels of client care and will work closely and considerately with you to help find the best outcomes. Our team has great experience in all areas of family law and family mediation, including cohabitation agreements.

We have offices in Shrewsbury, Bromyard, Conwy, Hereford, Ludlow, Oswestry and Telford, so are able to act for clients all over Shropshire, Herefordshire, Mid and North Wales and across the Midlands (including Wolverhampton & Birmingham). As a leading UK full-service law firm, we can represent you wherever you live in the UK.

Testimonials

They listened to my worries and my concerns, which put me at ease and made me feel that I completely had someone in my corner fighting for myself and children's best interests. 

- Miss Deborah Lisa Bradley, Shrewsbury & Oswestry

I always felt you were working in my best interests, but you didn't sugar coat or patronise me. My case was complex and I appreciated the professionalism shown and how the legal system "worked"

- Mrs J Bradford, Stafford

Excellent staff in all respects. The process was clear, well managed and avoided unnecessary stresses or delays. The meetings were as focused and efficient as possible and costs were kept to a minimum throughout.

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Professional and approachable, listening carefully to clients and treated client with respect. Appreciated being kept informed of developments that my business was in safe hands. 

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Friendly atmosphere and very professional attitude. 

- Mr Sidney Jolliffe, Oswestry

Always very efficient in dealing with the workload and advice given in divorce. Would highly recommend the service I received. 

- Mrs Suzanne Purvin

Advice was sensible and informative. It allowed me to make the decisions with understanding potential concequences. 

- Mr Paul Simon Burgoyne, Hereford

He was great, he listened and suggested the best course of action - thank you.

- Mr T Graves, Shrewsbury

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