5th May 2021
Last year’s lockdown saw record numbers of couples move in together, perhaps a little earlier than they would have done, to continue to spend time together during restrictions.
If you live with your partner or are considering moving in together, they you may have thought about various things such as where to live, how you will share finances, affordability, household chores etc. but you may not have thought about putting a legal agreement together.
Our Family Lawyers help couples to start their relationship on the right foot and can advise on cohabitation agreements for couples who wish to have some peace of mind, clarity and protection.
A cohabitation agreement is a legally drafted document which outlines what would happen should the relationship come to an end. It is useful to protect the finances of both parties and establish some of the practical arrangements in the event of a breakup, so that both sides know where they stand. You can enter into a cohabitation agreement whether you are buying a property together, living in a rented property or living together in a home that only one of you owns.
In order to hold up in court (if ever required) then both parties should seek their own independent legal advice to ensure that they both agree and understand on the terms and potential outcomes of the agreement before signing.
There is no legal requirement to have an agreement in place whilst living together but is an option that more and more people are opting for.
It a particularly useful tool to help give peace of mind when a couple’s situation might not be straightforward or balanced. For example, when there are children from a previous relationship involved, when one party owns their own property or when parents have provided a large deposit. There are also couples who are more cautious or perhaps have been stung before in the past and wish to add an extra layer of protection before moving in with someone else.
Couples that live together who are not married have very little rights and none of the certainty that married couples benefit from should the relationship breakdown or one person passed away. Even if the couple have children together or have lived together for many years, they will have no certainty about what will happen to their assets or property if the relationship ends.
The main benefit of entering into an agreement is the peace of mind that it brings. It works as an outline of an open and honest conversation about what you and your partner would like to happen should the relationship come to an end. Think of it as an insurance policy, rather than a pessimistic outlook on the relationship.
It can provide clarity so that in the event of breaking up, there is no doubt about what will happen, it can reduce disagreements or disputes.
It can also protect finances in situations where one party is more heavily invested than the other. For example, when one person had paid the deposit or a larger proportion of the deposit, one person is paying for more of the household bills or where family inheritance or gifts have helped towards the property.
It can also outline some more finer agreements such as mortgage payments, life assurance, arrangements for pets, who would remain in the property and how money or furniture would be divided.
Where both parties are going on the deeds to the property but wish to co-own it in different shares, we may also recommend putting in place a Declaration of Trust which specifies the percentages that any equity in the property is to be shared.
The cost of an agreement can vary depending on how complex the couple’s affairs are and how much time is required by a Solicitor. Solicitors charge at an hourly rate, so the cost can depend on the amount of work involved.
Usually, a client would require an initial meeting, time drafting the document, making amendments and getting it signed and witnessed. They can provide one party with legal advice, but the other person would need to get their own advice from a different firm.
Typically, a couple could expect to pay anywhere between £1,000 and £3,000 depending on the complexity of the document and how much time is required going back and forth with amendments. It helps to come to a solicitor with the bare bones of an agreement which you have both discussed prior, to avoid incurring more costs.
If you think that a Cohabitation Agreement sounds like a sensible choice for you, then please get in touch with our Family Law Team today.
They can discuss your own personal circumstances, talk you through the process and give you a more accurate estimation of fees.
Call us on 01256 844888, email firstname.lastname@example.org or speak to our online chat assistant who can take your details and arrange for one of our Family Law Specialists to call you back or email you some information to help get you started.
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The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.
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