With more people choosing to live together as opposed to getting married, it is becoming increasingly important that they give consideration to the consequences of any breakdown in their relationship and their respective assets.
They need to consider if one of them already owns or is purchasing a property in their sole name what claim if any that partner will have on this property or any other assets they may have.
If one party has previously been married and divorced and has children in particular, they may wish to protect the assets which are in their sole name. Alternatively, they may wish to make provision for their partner and their children.
It is therefore becoming more and more important that couples in this position consider a cohabitation agreement/living together agreement.
Why do I need such an agreement?
The law for people who live together it completely different to the law relating to people who are married. Therefore people who lived together can often be much more vulnerable on the breakdown of their relationship or in the event of the death of one of them.
The court has the power to determine who owns the property and in what share of mainly on the basis of actual contributions of unmarried couples and/or their intentions. It can often be difficult to prove contributions made and upon separation either or both parties may not recall their original intentions or certainly may not agree what their original intentions were.
A cohabitation agreement/living together agreement would provide a framework for the couple to record their intentions and their respective contributions. This would hopefully alleviate any concerns they may have prior to commencing cohabitation and hopefully, they would have the knowledge and reassurance that if their relationship was to break down the agreement would safeguard them financially and provide them with the necessary security they needed.
It is a matter for the parties what they include in such an agreement and they would both usually be advised to seek independent legal advise. The agreement can cover issues in relation to the property/properties, mortgage/rent payments, utility bills, contents, debts, bank accounts etc.
The parties may be advised that a declaration of trust would need to be prepared to set out ownership of the property/properties.
Couples also need to consider making wills if they are not married due to the lack of protection under the intestacy rules as they will not be next of kin. This is particularly relevant where either party has a child from a previous relationship which they would wish to make provision for as well as their new partner.
Contact any of our family team for more details. They are based at all offices.