A Cohabitation Agreement/Living Together Agreement is a formal written Contract/Deed entered into by people who intend to live together.
A Cohabitation Agreement is a legally binding document which sets out what each person has and will contribute to the household/relationship. It also provides a frame work of how the assets individuals had before they lived together and those that they acquire during the time that they live together should be dealt with if the relationship was ever to breakdown.
Why would one be needed?
If you intend on living together and have no desire to marry, it is important that you know that the law will not afford you the same protection if your relationship was to ever breakdown. In situations where there is a long standing relationship, coupled with dependent children, an individual could be faced with having to walk away from the relationship with very little financial security which is in stark contrast to what the situation would be if they had been married.
A Cohabitation Agreement can assist in setting out exactly what each person expects if their relationship was to ever breakdown. If one partner moves in to another’s home and a relationship later breaks down, that person could find themselves in a situation where they are not entitled to claim anything in relation to the home, even if it is the case that they have been contributing towards the mortgage payments or general upkeep of the property.
Similarly if joint purchases are made by partners who are living together, if there is no agreement in place as to what should happen to those joint purchases if the relationship was to break down, an individual could find themselves in a situation where they have to spend significant legal fees in resolving a dispute in relation to the same.
Are they legally binding?
Providing that the individuals entering into the agreement were open and honest in relation to their finances and assets at the time that the agreement was entered into and that they each had the opportunity of seeking independent legal advice, it is highly likely that a Court would enforce a properly drafted Cohabitation Agreement. Generally for a Deed to be legally enforceable it must have been drafted and executed in the proper manner and it is for this reason that it is always best that each person is represented when dealing with a Cohabitation Agreement. If a relationship was to breakdown the Cohabitation Agreement would stand as a legal Contract and is likely to be enforceable through the Civil Courts.
What would a Cohabitation Agreement Cover?
The agreement itself can cover a number of provisions to include the following:
1. How any personal property and household contents brought into the property is to be dealt with upon separation.
2. What is to happen to any motor vehicles, either owned solely or jointly.
3. How any joint bank accounts are to be dealt with upon separation.
4. Who would be responsible for any joint liabilities e.g. loans or further finance agreements.
5. Who would be responsible for the payment of living expenses to include any mortgages and bills.
6. What is to be agreed in relation to each party’s pension rights.
7. Provision for life insurance in the interests of protecting one another.
The agreement can also include tailored clauses in relation to the agreement as to what would happen to any pets and the level of support that would be given in relation to any children of the relationship.
What happens if there is no Cohabitation Agreement?
Essentially unmarried couples do not have any automatic or guaranteed rights to any share of the others financial resources on separation.
To find out more about what could be expected if there was no Cohabitation Agreement in place and your relationship was to break down, please refer to our earlier article ‘ “I do” versus “I Don’t”: the pitfalls of unmarried couples when their relationship breaks down’ which can be found in our blog history (April 2017) on our home page www.utk.co.uk
In the event that you require further advice in relation to Cohabitation Agreements, please contact our Matrimonial Department on 01267 237441. We can offer a 30 minute free consultation and a fixed fee quote for a tailor made Cohabitation Agreement that will best safeguard your position.