Do you need a cohabitation agreement?
What is a cohabitation agreement?
A cohabitation agreements is also be known as a ‘no nup agreement’ or a ‘living together agreement.’ The purpose of a cohabitation agreement is to regulate the terms which you both agree to whilst living together and set out what should happen if the relationship or cohabitation is to end.
Cohabitation agreements are made because unfortunately, unmarried couples do not have the same legal rights as married couples. Despite popular belief, there is no such thing as a ‘common law marriage’. This can mean that often when couples separate any disputes about property can take a very long time to resolve and become extremely expensive.
By entering into a cohabitation agreement, couples can clearly set out how they intend for any property to be distributed and how they intend for future disputes to be resolved. This can eliminate the level of confrontation and disputes when separating. In addition to this, should parties have any property disputes that require Court involvement upon separation the Court is able to clearly see what the parties had intended to happen when making any decisions.
Are cohabitation agreements legally binding?
They are legally binding contracts, if they are drafted and executed properly, and are signed as a legal deed. It is therefore essential to keep any agreement up to date, if you were to move house or have children for example. If a separation agreement is going to be challenged in Court, it is normally because either party is claiming to have been forced into entering the agreement or did not understand the implications of signing the agreement. It is therefore essential that parties obtain legal advice.
In order for a cohabitation agreement to be legally binding both parties must have entered into the agreement freely and voluntarily, the agreement must have been executed, it must be set out in the form of a deed and should be kept up to date.
What should it include?
A cohabitation agreement can cover any number of points and can be tailored specifically to the desires and needs of the parties entering into the agreement. Common examples of what can be covered are: –
- The contributions that you each make towards the mortgage or rent.
- The contributions that you each make towards household bills.
- Whether life insurance is necessary.
- How any joint bank accounts should be managed.
- How jointly owned property or assets should be distributed should you separate.
- If the other party should be named as beneficiary in the other’s pension or will.
- How debts should be managed whilst together and upon separation.
- What should happen to pets if you were to separate.
- How any children will be cared for and the financial responsibilities each party has in relation to the children.
- What happens if the relationship ends.
When should a cohabitation agreement be made?
They are generally made before parties begin living together. However, the agreements can be made at any time. Couples often decide to enter into one after first living together when they realise that there are practical issues that need to be addressed.
What happens if the parties decide to marry?
When parties decide to marry, they may wish to consider entering into a pre-nuptial agreement instead. A pre-nuptial agreement sets out what the parties wish to happen should their marriage end. Pre-nuptial agreements can also be prepared by the Slee Blackwell family department.