An unmarried couple who are living together can enter into a cohabitation contract to ensure a clear understanding for both parties, on what will happen if the relationship breaks down.
We would advise all unmarried couples to make an agreement with your partner about your living arrangements incase you separate. This is especially important if you are the sole legal owner of the property you are living in.
What is a cohabitation agreement?
A cohabitation contract is a written, signed document that will be signed infront of a witness or solicitor. Generally, it will cover the following:
- Who owns (and owes) what at the time of the agreement?
- What financial arrangements you have decided to make while you are living together, including provision for any children?
- How property, assets and income should be divided if the relationship breaks down?
We will advise you on what is recommended to cover once we have received a clearer picture of your individual circumstances and what you are hoping to achieve.
Is it necessary to make a cohabitation agreement?
Many people assume that when you have been living together for a certain period of time, you will have a “common law marriage”. There is no such rule recognised by the law in this country. If you split up from someone you have been living with, it does not mean you will be legally entitled to any financial support or a share of the property.
If you are not married and you are living with a partner, it is a good idea to have a cohabitation agreement in place to protect your interests in the event of a breakup.
When is it right to make a cohabitation agreement?
A cohabitation agreement can be made at any time, before or after you start living with your partner. We can prepare an agreement for you, even if you have already been living together for many years.
What information will you need to provide?
We will need the following information to prepare your cohabitation agreement:
- Both parties’ full names and dates of birth
- The names and dates of birth of any child and whether that child is a child of both parties or only one of the parties
- Both parties’ nationality, domicile and residency status
- Whether you have exchanged information about your finances with your partner
- Any particular matters you wish to be included in the agreement
What does the law say on cohabitation contracts?
There is a general checklist that the courts can consider when deciding whether to uphold a cohabitation contract:
- Both parties should receive independent legal advice to ensure that they fully understand the effects of the agreement
- There should be an exchange of financial disclosure, setting out the parties’ assets and income with documentation in support
- The agreement should make reference to any children of the parties and explain how they will be provided for on separation
- The agreement should be reviewed on the birth of any child or if the parties’ circumstances change significantly, for instance if either party becomes unable to work or there is a significant change inassets
- Whether the terms of the agreement are fair.The agreement cannot rule out a party’s claim for child maintenance
- The court will consider all the circumstances of the case including any pressure they may be under from each other or third parties.
The agreement should be entered into freely and must be kept confidential from members the public.
What is the process?
We will need to discuss with you what you would like to achieve and prepare the agreement for your approval. The other party will need to take independent legal advice on the terms of the agreement before signing the document. If there are any queries raised by the other party’s solicitors, we will explain these to you and negotiate your counterproposals. The agreement will need to be signed by both parties once finalized.
It is vital that the agreement is clearly drafted for the court to consider it, in the event that your relationship breaks down. We will pay careful attention to the requirements when advising you on the information we need from you, and how we can best protect your legal position.
Why Adam Bernard Solicitors?
- Our family department has years of experience in handling cohabitation contracts.
- This experience has ensured that we comprehensively draft such contracts to ensure that every eventuality is covered, and our clients are therefore best protected
- We have achieved numerous successes in this field, as evidenced through our client testimonies.