Couples that live together (who are not married or in a civil partnership) can be at risk of overestimating the rights they have regarding shared money and property. When compared to spouses and civil partners, cohabitees actually have very few legal protections in this regard – and assuming otherwise can lead to huge problems in the future.
If you are cohabiting with your partner, or you are thinking of moving in together, it is crucial to explore what your legal rights really are. Taking some precautionary action now, such as making a cohabitation agreement, can avoid some very unpleasant surprises down the road.
Truth Legal can help you to get a sense of your legal position and to make a cohabitation agreement to protect you and your partner. We can offer you the expertise of a specialist family law solicitor, who will provide you clear, practical advice on your situation.
Get in touch with us for expert guidance on your cohabitation rights.
Do not fall for the myth of ‘common law marriage’!
A belief that we encounter a lot is that cohabitees become protected by rights of ‘common law marriage’ after living together for a long time. This is simply not the case.
For example, you may think that your partner will be provided for if you pass away, or that certain property will be divided between you if you were to separate, but unless you have made proper arrangements, it may not turn out like that. It does not matter how long you have lived together either; cohabiting couples do not get anywhere near the same automatic legal rights as those enjoyed by married couples and civil partners.
All of which means that you, as a cohabiting couple, have to take extra care that what you both intend to happen – in the event of a death or a separation – will do so.
Major legal differences between cohabitees and spouses/civil partners
There are many differences in the way the law treats cohabitees and spouses/civil partners. The following highlights some of the major ones:
- Separation: Unlike a divorce, or the dissolution of a civil partnership, when cohabitees separate they do not acquire any rights over their partner’s assets, in most situations.
- Death: The surviving cohabitee will not inherit from their late partner if they have not made any relevant provisions within their will. By contrast, spouses and civil partners could inherit under these circumstances. This makes it all the more important for cohabitees to make wills.
Truth Legal can advise you fully on how your situation might be affected by the above as a cohabitee. We can also guide you in arranging your joint affairs in ways which you would both prefer. One option for this is to make a cohabitation agreement.
Making a cohabitation agreement
A cohabitation agreement (also known as a living together agreement) is a legal document which sets out how both of you have agreed to arrange matters in the event that you separate.
A cohabitation agreement can be a great way to provide certainty to your legal rights in the relationship. Although it is never pleasant to think about separating from your partner, it can be a helpful precaution to prevent legal difficulties from causing extra distress and upheaval at an already painful time.
However, cohabitation agreements must be drafted properly, with the advice and help of a solicitor specialising in family law. This is to ensure that the agreement is legally binding and has exactly the effects you both intend it to have.
Cohabitation advice and support from Truth Legal
The law around unmarried cohabiting couples is uneven and complicated. Unfortunately, getting your legal arrangements wrong, as cohabitees, could have enormous financial and personal consequences.
With something so important, it is vital to seek the right support and to instruct the right solicitors to help you. Truth Legal can call upon the expertise of experienced, specialist family lawyers, to give you the peace of mind that your legal position is safe.
We are trusted by many clients with their legal matters, and our excellent Trustpilot reviews show how hard we work to ensure that trust is repaid. We are based in Harrogate and Leeds, and serve clients nationwide.
To make a cohabitation agreement, or for further advice about your legal position as a cohabitee, get in touch with Truth Legal today.