In modern relationships, fewer people than ever are choosing to walk down the aisle. While getting married can be seen as overly romanticised or associated with religious practices, under UK law, it serves a purpose.
If you are married or have had a civil partnership, you have more legal rights in areas such as divorce, financial and housing options. Even if you have been cohabiting with your partner for over 40 years and have not signed a marriage certificate, if your partnership breaks down, you could be left with nothing.
Luckily, this doesn’t mean you have to start choosing a venue and deciding on which dress you want to wear! There are ways you can legally protect yourself in the event of a relationship breakdown outside of marriage. While not a technically legally binding contract in the UK, a cohabitation agreement can be drawn up by any family solicitors.
Unsure how this document could help you and your partner? Read on for answers to the top 4 FAQs about cohabitation agreements.
Won’t a cohabitation agreement put stress on our relationship?
This is an understandable concern; as a cohabitation agreement can be seen as you not having faith in the longevity of your relationship, any experienced family solicitors will inform you that it is actually a way to set out guidelines for your lives together. Handled with a competent legal representative, this agreement can help save you a great deal of stress in the long run and won’t impact on your relationship negatively.
What should be included in one?
As you can imagine, a cohabitation agreement that is drawn up by family solicitors should cover financial issues and other points, such as who would live in the property if you were to separate. It should also cover any responsibilities for things such as debts and child access rights. If you or your partner have children from a previous relationship, this should be included as well.
Can’t we just come up with one ourselves?
When it comes to simply creating your own agreement, it can be tempting to assume that this will be enough to hold up in court. But, as cohabitation agreements are becoming more commonplace in the UK, it is unwise to simply assume that one written by you and your partner will stand up in court. Instead, you could draw up the key aspects you want to have discussed and set down in the document and pass this onto a solicitor prior to the writing of the agreement.
If we separate, are assets divided 50/50?
While many assume that this happens with regular divorces, it is rarely the case and is based on a case by case basis. Indeed, when it comes to writing your cohabitation agreement, your solicitor will ask you to specify how you would like any shared assets to be divided should you and your partner separate, meaning that it is clear from when the agreement is drawn up.