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    Cohabitation rights & living together agreements

    Moving in with a partner can be one of the most exciting times in your life. There is often so much to look forward to that it is sometimes easy to forget that there may also be difficult times ahead. Unmarried couples often assume they enjoy the same legal rights as married couples but that is not the case.

    If you and a partner are thinking about living together – what is legally termed ‘cohabitation’ – it is crucial that you obtain preventative legal advice at the outset. The law does not provide the same protections or legal remedies for cohabiting couples as it does married couples.

    Unlike married couples, simply living with your partner does not give one an interest in the other’s property. Common law marriage does not exist. However, you may still have entitlements based on your contributions or on written or oral agreements between you both. In the event of a dispute, the court will have to determine whether you should continue to occupy the property and what, if any, interest you have in it.

    What is a cohabitation agreement?

    A cohabitation agreement is a legally binding contract between unmarried partners, laying down what rights and obligations you each have within the relationship. It can be entered into before you move in together or after living together for many years.

    You should think carefully before signing any agreement, seeking independent legal advice to ensure it is drafted and executed correctly.

    What should be included in a cohabitation agreement?

    • Personal possessions
    • Payment of bills
    • Debt responsibility
    • Joint bank account use
    • Children maintenance payments

    If you separate from your partner, unlike married couples, neither of you has a right to claim ongoing financial help from the other, even if you’ve lived together for many years. However, if you have children, in the absence of an agreement, the absent parent will be required to make regular maintenance payments under the Child Support Act. Further financial support may be available by way of an application to the court.

    None of us knows what will happen in the future. As such, it is always advisable to protect yourself and your family by making a will. In the event that your partner dies, it does not automatically follow that their assets will pass to you.

    If you are considering living with a partner, even if you have been together for many years, we can provide you with the legal advice and support you require to secure your relationship and protect your interests.

    How we can help you

    We can help prepare a cohabitation agreement that covers financial arrangements and how assets are to be divided if your relationship breaks down:

    • Finances
    • Property
    • Shared assets
    • Child maintenance

    For legal advice on cohabitation rights

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