What does a cohabitation agreement contain?
There is virtually no limit to what terms a cohabitation agreement might contain, and it’s not necessarily just about what should happen if the relationship breaks down. It can, for example, include provisions about how the parties should divide responsibilities for the payment of day to day expenses during the relationship.
Otherwise, the agreement may set out how any dependent children should be looked after when the couple separate, what maintenance, if any, should be paid for the children, how any property and other assets should be divided after separation, and who should be responsible for any debts.
Cohabitation Agreement FAQs
Separating from a partner is never easy, regardless of whether you are married or not. However, for those who are not married, there are some unique issues that must be considered. Here are 5 key issues to be aware of when separating from a partner.
- Property Rights: Unlike married couples, cohabitants do not have an automatic right to each other's property when separating. If you jointly own property, you will need to come to an agreement on how it will be divided. It's important to remember that you may have different legal rights depending on whether you are joint owners, tenants in common, or if only one of you is named on the property (title deeds).
- Parental Responsibility: Unmarried fathers do not automatically have Parental Responsibility for their children. If you are the father of a child, you will need to take legal action to acquire Parental Responsibility (if you do not already have it). This will give you the right to make decisions about your child's upbringing, such as schooling, medical treatment, and religion.
- Child Maintenance: If you have children together, you will need to come to an agreement about child maintenance payments. This is to ensure that both parents contribute towards the financial support of their children.
- Inheritance Rights: Unlike married couples, cohabitants do not have automatic inheritance rights if their partner dies without a will. It is important to make a will to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. If you do not have a will, your partner could apply to the court for permission to make a claim on your estate.
Separating from a partner can be a difficult time, but understanding your legal rights and responsibilities is crucial. Seeking legal advice early can help to ensure that your interests are protected and that the separation process is as smooth as possible.
There is virtually no limit to what terms a cohabitation agreement might contain, and it’s not necessarily just about what should happen if the relationship breaks down. It can, for example, include provisions about how the parties should divide responsibilities for the payment of day-to-day expenses during the relationship.
Otherwise, the agreement may set out how any dependent children should be looked after when the couple separates, what maintenance, if any, should be paid for the children, how any property and other assets should be divided after separation, and who should be responsible for any debts.
For a cohabitation agreement to be legally binding, both parties should obtain independent legal advice before signing it. It is also advisable to have the agreement professionally drafted by a Solicitor.
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What happens when a cohabiting couple separates without having a cohabitation agreement, and cannot agree on arrangements for children and finances?
There is a lot to consider, for example just because a person cohabited for a considerable time in a property owned by the other party that does not mean that they acquire any interest in that property. You will need advice to ascertain if you have any interest in the property. This is a complex legal area, and anyone wishing to make such a claim should first seek expert legal advice.
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