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Cohabitation Solicitors in Bridgend and Rhondda Cynon Taff
Many people mistakenly believe that they have rights under “common law” if they live together with their partner without getting married or entering a civil partnership. However, there is no such thing as “common law marriage”, so if your relationship were to end, you have no special rights over your partner’s property, savings or other assets.
If that thought worries you (and it should), the good news is there is a simple way to protect yourself. A cohabitation agreement (sometimes called a ‘living together agreement’) allows you to set out exactly how your property and other assets will be divided if your relationship ends.
A cohabitation agreement can also cover other important practical issues, such as where any children you have together would live, plus how issues such as your rent, mortgage and other household costs will be divided while you are living together. You can thus create certainty and help to avoid arguments during your relationship, as well as protecting yourself against the possibility of your relationship ending.
While you may worry that creating a formal agreement over such issues is ‘tempting fate’ by admitting the possibility your relationship will end, in our experience is usually helps to make relationships stronger. This is because you remove a big source of potential uncertainty and tension, saving you from unnecessary conflict.
Our family law team are highly experienced in helping clients from a wide range of backgrounds to craft cohabitation agreements that are perfectly tailored to their circumstances. We will be happy to advise you on how a cohabitation agreement could help you and guide you through the entire process of creating a fair, legally binding agreement that gives you and your loved ones certainty for the future.
If you are getting married, we can also help you with creating a prenuptial agreement.
For friendly, practical support to create a cohabitation agreement in South Wales, please contact your local Devonalds office.
Common questions about cohabitation agreements
What should you include in a cohabitation agreement?
This will entirely depend on your circumstances and what practical issues you want to create certainty around.
A typical cohabitation agreement might cover issues such as:
- What share of the rent or mortgage each partner will pay
- How other bills and household costs will be paid
- Who is responsible for any household debt you incur
- What share of a property you co-own each partner is entitled to
- What will happen to your shared home if you separate
- How your finances will be divided if you separate
- Where any children you have together will live if you separate
- What provision will be made for any children you have together if you separate
Is a cohabitation agreement necessary?
How much you will benefit from a cohabitation agreement will, again, depend on the circumstances. However, it is worth considering for any couple who are living together and is recommended if you own a property together, live in a property that one of you owns and/or have children together.
A key question to ask yourself is: what would happen if we split up? Would you be able to stay in your current home? Would you have the resources to quickly find somewhere else to live? What would happen to your children (if you have any)?
A cohabitation agreement can clear up these important issues, giving you peace of mind that you won’t be left in a difficult situation if your relationship ends.
It is an unfortunate fact that women with children are the ones most likely to lose out when an unmarried relationship ends, especially if they have made career sacrifices to raise their children, harming their earning potential. A cohabitation agreement is therefore very strongly recommended for unmarried mothers.
Is a cohabitation agreement legally binding?
As long as it is created in the right way, a cohabitation agreement will be legally binding, meaning both parties will need to stick to the terms of the agreement even if they later change their mind.
For your cohabitation agreement to be legally binding:
- Both partners must have taken independent legal advice before signing the agreement
- Neither party must have been under pressure to sign
- Both parties must have made a full disclosure of their finances before signing
- The agreement must be fair to both parties
When is the right time to create a cohabitation agreement?
The best time to create a cohabitation agreement is generally when you and your partner first move in together. However, there are particular times when it may a good idea to look at creating an agreement if you haven’t already, including:
- If you buy a property together
- If one of you is moving into a property the other owns
- If you have children together or are thinking about having children together
Do unmarried couples have rights?
Unmarried couples have no special rights towards each other under the law, no matter how long they have lived together. This means that if you separate, you are usually not entitled to any share of your partner’s property, savings, pension or other assets – unless you have a cohabitation agreement.
Why use Devonalds for your cohabitation agreement?
Creating a cohabitation agreement can be a confusing and intimidating process, as you have to consider issues many of us would rather not think about.
Our family lawyers understand this and can offer the sensitive, empathetic guidance you need to get a fair agreement in place that protects your long-term interests without having any negative impact on your relationship.
In fact, removing the uncertainty that surrounds key issues, such as the ownership of your home, is likely to strengthen your relationship, rather than otherwise.
With many years of experience across our team in all areas of family law, we pride ourselves on providing a friendly, local service, making it is as easy and stress-free as possible for you to get the legal advice and support you need.
Devonalds is independently regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Get in touch with our cohabitation agreement solicitors in South Wales
- Sian Roberts
- Associate of the Institute of Legal Executives