Moving in with your partner is a relationship milestone and can feel like a big commitment, so it is important to be aware that you have less legal rights as one half of a couple who is living together than if you are married.
For those who do not believe in the institution of marriage, civil-partnership is now an option which allows you to enjoy similar legal rights without the religious ceremony or vows.
Despite what many people believe in the UK, there is no such thing as a common law marriage. Generally you will have far fewer rights if you have not formalised your relationship in the eyes of the law.
We strongly advise all couples who are living together, but are not married or in a civil-partnership, to enter into a Cohabitation Agreement, also known as a Living Together Agreement.
What is a Cohabitation Agreement?
A Cohabitation Agreement is a legal contract between you and your partner which clarifies the ownership of shared property and assets, as well as specifying how they will be divided in the event of separation.
Nobody likes to think about the possibility of their relationship ending when they are at the exciting stage of moving in together, but taking this step ensures you are both on the same page and have realistic expectations about the contribution you will be making to your relationship. You can enter into, or update, a Cohabitation Agreement at any stage in your relationship, which can be especially important if you have or intend to have children.
What if there is no written agreement in place when we separate?
We are experienced in assisting unmarried clients where a relationship has broken down and there is a disagreement about how the assets should be divided. If the dispute is in respect of a property then the Courts will apply trust and land law, even if you have been in a lengthy relationship. In this situation, careful negotiation is required to reach a fair outcome for everyone.
For further advice on cohabitation agreements or disputes, please contact Louise Allard or Sabrina Bailey on 020 7993 2936.
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