Ensure your financial interests are protected when cohabiting
One of the biggest misconceptions in family law is that there is such a thing as a “common law husband” or a “common law wife”. No matter how long you live with your partner you do not acquire or accrue any rights!
If a married couple should separate, Divorce laws determines what is a fair and reasonable distribution of the couple’s assets, income and pensions whether owned individually or jointly. The law has no such power to make such orders in relation to unmarried couples and cannot change ownership of assets.
It may be possible to make an application to the court for a declaration of beneficial entitlement in a property but this can be costly and involve quite complex consideration of Trusts law.
In January 2015 the office of national statistics reported that Cohabiting couple families grew by 29.7% between 2004 and 2014. This is the fastest growing type of family in the UK.
Drawing up a Cohabitation Agreement can protect your interests, provide certainty and should not harm your relationship if you approach it in the right way.
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Drawing up a Cohabitation Agreement can protect your interests, provide certainty and should not harm your relationship if you approach it in the right way. You should avoid looking at the agreement simply as a prediction that the relationship will at some point break down. Instead, you can use the preparation of drawing up the agreement to work through some of the key issues and make some key decisions in your lives together. If sensitively handled, this process can strengthen a relationship.
The agreement should include what rights each partner has in relation to the property you live in, who owns any other assets and who is responsible for any debts. It’s also common for the agreement to look at how you will meet expenses while you live together. Where there are children, the agreement can and should also address this.
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