‘Living Together’ (Cohabitation) Agreements Many people still believe that ‘common law marriage’ exists and that as a result, living with someone for a certain period of time means you are automatically entitled to some support or to share their property after you split up. Sadly, this is not the case. The law that applies on the end of a cohabiting relationship is highly complex, and disputes can be very expensive to resolve and can take a long time. Because there is no coherent ‘cohabitation law’ that automatically applies if your relationship ends, it is sensible to try to agree in advance what should happen with your money and property if you split up. A cohabitation agreement can be made at any point during If one of you owns the home or intends to buy it alone, it is important to record whether or not you intend for the other person to have any share in it. You should also think about what should happen to any endowment policies or other savings arrangements linked to your mortgage, if relevant. Other possessions Things like paintings, furniture and cars can stir significant emotions if a relationship ends. It may be worth setting down now any rules about ownership of important things, or a way to sort out any disagreements about them (for example, each picking in turn from a list of items). your relationship, whether you are about to start living together or whether you have been doing so for many years. We can help you negotiate this agreement if necessary, and write it down in a way that it is likely to be respected by the court if there were ever a dispute. In order to draw up a cohabitation agreement, we will need to know basic details about you and your partner. It will give your agreement much more legal clout if both of you are prepared to set out in full your financial circumstances as this means that you are both agreeing in the full knowledge of each other’s wealth. You might also think in advance about how you would like to approach the following areas: Ownership of the home in which you live. If you have bought or intend to buy a property together, you should have discussed this with your conveyancing solicitor already and have agreed whether to own it as joint tenants or as tenants-‐in-‐common, and if so, in what proportions. Money and paying bills Many people find it convenient to have a joint bank account when they live together, but need to decide what contributions they are going to make to that account and if the contributions are not equal, whether they will consider the money in the joint account to be equally owned. What will the joint account be used for, and when should your personal accounts be used instead? Other important areas It is sensible also to think about arrangements for pensions, insurance, and when you might need to reconsider the agreement. You could also think about what arrangements you would wish to make for any children: this would not be legally binding but is still an important matter for consideration when living together. It is possible that the law might change in the future to give cohabitants specific rights. Under the current proposals, if you have an agreement about what you want to happen on separation, this will take precedence. Cambridge Family Law Practice 33 Parkside, Cambridge, CB1 1JE ©Cambridge Family Law Practice 2014 This information is provided as a free service to the public, and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal advice.
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