Cohabitation agreements: better safe than sorry
No such thing as a common law spouse
Limited legal protection for cohabiting couples with children
What is a cohabitation agreement?
Just as those getting married can have a pre nuptial or post nuptial agreement, so can cohabitees. Sometimes referred to as a living together agreement, or even a “no nup”, a cohabitation agreement is a document that sets out what happens in the case of you splitting up.
Details might include how you would divide up:
- Your home/property and its contents
- Joint purchases such as a car
- Joint monies, savings and investments
- Joint debts
- Other assets such as inherited items
It should also cover what each person brings to the relationship at the outset, to establish a ‘baseline’ for negotiation and agreement.
Cohabitation agreements and children
Most importantly, any cohabitation agreement should cover all matters concerning your children, such as how to support then and who they will live with. However, such an agreement will not overrule any pre-existing legal rights or requirements regarding children, such as the automatic financial responsibility for your natural child and the obligation to pay child maintenance for a minor child.
Do cohabitation agreements kill romance?
Couples may feel that asking their loved one to create such an agreement isn’t exactly romantic. However, it’s actually a very practical way to affirm what each partner brings, and what is a fair and reasonable way to manage your financial future together too.
Are cohabitation agreements legally binding?
The important aspect of any cohabitation agreement is that it is properly drawn up, with full disclosure and each partner taking independent legal advice. It should be created with the sole intent of it having legal force. It should be signed in the presence of witnesses, and you should sign the document of your own free will, that is, without coercion. If you then break up, a court will abide by the contract.
Take your time
Cohabitation agreements are just as involved and complex as pre-nups, and we always recommend couples take time to talk it through before coming to us. We can then draft an agreement using all the salient information, and you as a couple can amend anything you wish on that draft before signing a final version.
Online cohabitation agreement templates
It’s tempting to simply download a template agreement and guidance note pack from the web, but this is not advisable. As stated above, one of the key elements of a cohabitation agreement when presented in court is that both parties sought independent legal advice prior to signing and were clear on the intentions they expressed. Miss out that element, and the court may dismiss the entire agreement, however comprehensive it might be.
Cohabitation agreement or a will?
The simple answer is - both! One protects you in the event of your relationship breaking down, the other in the case of your partner dying.
Need a cohabitation agreement drawn up?
Call us here at LGFL Ltd. A legally binding cohabitation agreement created with our help and professional advice can ensure that you are definitely better safe than sorry.