Despite the Government’s attempts at promoting marriage and civil partnerships, statistical evidence recently published suggests that more of us than ever before are choosing to live together without ‘tying the knot’. It is estimated that around 6 million people in the UK are now cohabiting and these numbers are set to rise according to reports from the Centre for Social Justice.
With separation rates for cohabiting couples just as high as the rate of divorce it is important that people are not left exposed and vulnerable by the law.
In England and Wales there are clear rules regulating how the finances of a divorcing couples should be dealt with. There are also specific rules as to who gets what when a spouse or civil partner dies.
Contrary to perception ‘common law marriage’ is not a concept with any legal status and as such there are no specific laws to protect separating cohabitees no matter how long they have lived together. Similarly a cohabitee ordinarily will be entitled to nothing on the death of the other cohabitee.
The death or separation of a cohabitee can therefore give rise to specific legal complications which the law at present is poorly equipped to address. This can result in expensive litigation to resolve the problem which is often based upon complex property and trust rules which in turn can generate outcomes that neither party necessarily intended. There is however a solution to all of this.
Although we are finding that increasing numbers of couples are entering into pre-nuptial agreements prior to marriage as a means of planning in the best of times for what should happen in the worst of times, many cohabiting couples are unaware that they can do something similar.
Discussing with your partner what should happen if the relationship ends may seem a strange way to start your relationship, but having a cohabitation agreement in place could avoid financial and emotional trauma later on.
The hlw Keeble Hawson cohabitation agreement can offer you and your partner peace of mind and make it clear for example;
Who will own the home in which you live or intend to live, and if jointly, in what shares.
Who will pay the bills including any improvements or renovations to the home.
What will happen to the property if the relationship ends or should one of you die.
Whether the survivor can stay in the property after the death of the other and if so for how long.
How any children, including any from a previous relationship, will be protected financially in the event of your death or separation.
Whether you are currently living together or contemplating cohabitation if you have any questions about this or would like to have a hlw Keeble Hawson cohabitation agreement in place then contact either Vanessa Fox or Antony Ball. Both have considerable experience in drafting cohabitation agreements as well as advising those without an agreement who are going through the process of separation.
At the same time we suggest that you contact our team of Will and estate planning specialists to ensure that your requirements after your death are satisfied.