Married couples are protected by an array of specialist legislation to ensure fairness in the division of family property but living together as a couple (also called cohabiting) does not give you the same rights and responsibilities.
When a relationship breaks down, cohabiting couples may well find that they have little or no financial obligations to each other, this may be the case even in circumstances where the couple have lived together for many years and have raised a family.
Many couples are unaware of their legal position and often believe that they have some form of protection known as ‘common law spouses’. This is a common misunderstanding as there is no such protection.
Until such time that laws are created to protect couples who cohabit, there will remain a significant imbalance and perceived unfairness for former cohabitees as opposed to married or civil partner couples.
One of the most significant assets within a family is usually the home and cohabitees are entirely reliant on Land and Trust Law to determine dispute as to the ownership of property. These laws were never designed to attend to the specific needs and requirements of cohabiting couples and as a result this can sometimes make outcomes for the ownership of property uncertain.
There are however a range of options which can offer more certainty to cohabiting couples and ideally need to be considered prior to cohabitation or the purchase of property.
A written Cohabitation Agreement detailing what contributions you will each make and what share of the home you are each entitled to, minimises risk of future disputes.
For example, an agreement might cover issues such as how bills will be shared, whether you will have any joint accounts, and what roles you will each have in terms of childcare, household chores and so on.
You could also opt for a Declarations of Trust which is an agreement setting out how much each party is entitled to in the event of a sale of the property including contributions to a mortgage or any repairs or improvements to the property.
This is a complex area of law but our expert advisors are here to help you plan for the future and ensure you adopt a considered approach before entering into any agreements.
For more information please call Louise Daniel on 01706 213 356 or email firstname.lastname@example.org