Bedroom Flower Cohabitation ND88304Cohabiting families are the fastest growing type of family in the UK. Couples who are neither married nor in a civil partnership, but who live together are called ‘cohabitants’. Cohabitants have fewer legal rights than married couples and it may therefore be important to seek a cohabitation agreement which is a form of legal agreement reached between those who have chosen to live together, but are not married or in a civil partnership.

A cohabitation agreement is a brilliant way of protecting both partners and these agreements can be drawn up before moving in together or if circumstances are changing, for example, if a couple decides to have children or to buy a property. These agreements can also apply to people who are not a couple, but are living together such as friends or relations who have chosen to buy a property together.

A cohabitation agreement will set out how the cohabitants are to share finances whilst living together and can also set out what will happen if a couple separate, if one person becomes ill or if one person dies.

These agreements are a record of what has been agreed as to how the cohabitants will own, share and pay for things. Cohabitation agreements can cover the payment of rent, mortgage and household bills and can also cover other finances, such as what happens to joint bank accounts and pensions. It can also include property and assets which were owned before or bought whilst living together. These agreements are important if individuals wish to protect their share in a property and provide a clear definition as to how any property is owned. If applicable, a cohabitation agreement can also record what has been agreed in regards to arrangements for any children and/or pets.

A cohabitation agreement will only be valid if both parties enter into the agreement freely and voluntarily. The agreement will need to be signed by both parties as a Deed and the agreement will need to be reviewed periodically and possibly amended to take into account any significant life changes. It is important that each person obtains independent legal advice to ensure that he or she fully understands the agreement.

In order to draft a cohabitation agreement, a solicitor will need to be provided with full details of the cohabitants’ finances including debts, assets and anything else that the agreement may need to cover. Documents to support what will be set out in the agreement may also be required and these may include; proof of assets, tenancy agreements, proof of any property improvement work, proof of earnings and birth certificates for any relevant children.

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Articles published through this website contain only general advice and are not intended as professional counsel and should not be used as such.

If you require specific advice on a particular issue or problem highlighted by this article, then please contact Fitzhugh Gates, the Solicitors for Brighton and Hove and Shoreham-by-Sea. 

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