What is a cohabitation agreement?
A cohabitation agreement is an agreement entered into couples living who are, or intend to live together, and who wish to clarify the financial arrangements between them. The agreement will deal with who owns what and in what proportions, the arrangements whilst living together and what will happen in the event of separation.
The cohabitation agreement must be signed by the parties entering into the agreement and it must be witnessed. The parties should seek independent legal advice to consider the effects of the agreement and be sure they agree with the contents. A cohabitation agreement is a legal document so provided it has been properly executed, it can be enforced by the court.
What are the benefits of entering into a cohabitation agreement?
Many couples are now choosing to live together without getting married or entering into a civil partnership. It is common for people to assume that living with someone means they are in a ‘common law marriage’ and there are rights to protect them, but in reality, there are no such rights. Because the rights that apply to married couples or couples in a civil partnership are not the same as those for cohabiting couples, cohabitation agreements can be a useful tool for dealing with any areas that could give rise to a potential dispute. This means it may be possible to avoid lengthy, costly disputes as well as providing peace of mind to the parties.
When is the best time to consider a cohabitation agreement?
Cohabitation agreements can be made at any time, but it is a good idea to consider an agreement prior to living together so that the terms are set out from the beginning. However, it is possible to make a cohabitation agreement at any time even if a couple have been living together for many years. It is important to ensure the agreement is kept up to date and the terms may need to be reviewed if circumstances change, such as having children.
What should be included in a cohabitation agreement?
The agreement should deal with assets and finances. The main considerations are likely to be:
- savings and investments
- payment of bills
- personal items (household items like furniture as well as cars and jewellery).
The agreement should set out who owns what and in what proportions. It may also set out how each party will contribute financially, including payment of the bills, the mortgage and possibly how much each party will contribute to a joint bank account or credit card. It should also deal with what will happen to assets in the event of separation and consider whether there should be a period of financial support whilst each party moves to their own accommodation.
Each agreement will be different and can be tailored to meet individual circumstances.
If you require any further information about this, please contact our expert, Carol Chrisfield, at [email protected].