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Unmarried couples – are cohabitation agreements a good idea?

Unmarried cohabiting families are the fastest growing type of family in the UK.  However English law does not recognise in any meaningful way a living-together relationship outside marriage or civil partnership.  If a cohabiting relationship breaks down then there is very little protection for the weaker partner and parties can find themselves facing real difficulties should they split up, particularly when children are involved.

When married couples divorce or civil partners break up, both parties have a legal right to maintenance and their share of assets, including property and inherited property.  Under marital law, all the circumstances and history of the relationship are taken into account to decide on a fair division.  However, cohabiting couples have no such rights, regardless of the number of years they have been together or whether they have children.  One solution therefore, for cohabiting couples who want some legal protection should they split up is to draw up a cohabitation agreement.

What is a co-habitation agreement?

It sets out who owns what and in what proportion and lets you document how you will split your property, its contents, personal belongings, savings and other assets should the relationship break down. It can also cover how rent, mortgage or household bills will be paid, how you will support your children, over and above any legal requirements to maintain them, as well as how you would deal with bank accounts, debts, pensions, pets and joint purchases such as a car.

What information is required?

A list of finances, including any debts, assets and anything else the agreement will cover. Also,  information and relevant documents to support what will be set out in the agreement will need to be disclosed.

Are cohabitation agreements legal enforceable?

For the agreement to be valid it must:-

  • have been entered into it freely and voluntarily
  • be in the form of a deed
  • be signed by each person
  • be kept up to date for major life changes, for example, new children or property

Both parties must also have sought independent legal advice on the agreement.

If the above are followed, then should a dispute arise the document is highly persuasive to the court.

So, can we help?

At Berkson Family Law Solicitors Liverpool, we provide effective legal advice and guidance and our family solicitors.

We are here to provide you with reassuring legal advice to ensure that if your relationship breaks down any matters are dealt with fairly.

If you would like to talk to one of our specialist family law advisers, please call us on 0151 236 1234, request a callback at your convenience or email us your enquiry.

Jayde Hampson

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