Why you could be better off with a Cohabitation agreement
What is a cohabitation agreement?
A cohabitation agreement details the arrangements between 2 or more people who have decided to live together. The agreement will allow you to record each other’s responsibilities and interest in relation to the property you live in, the way you arrange your joint finances during your cohabitation and what you intend to do if you stopped cohabiting.
A cohabitation agreement will record ownership of personal property that could be used by both cohabitees but will be retained by the owner if your relationship ends.
Who can enter into a cohabitation agreement?
Cohabitation agreements are usually entered into by couples who have decided not to marry or enter into a civil partnership but have decided to live together and sometimes by those who are starting again after divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership.
Most of the financial orders in family law that are available to married couples do not apply to cohabiting couples so many use cohabitation agreements to protect their own financial security.
However they can also be used by people who have simply decided to pool their financial resources and purchase a property to live together in.
When should I enter into a cohabitation agreement?
There is no hard and fast rule about when the cohabitation agreement should come into force, so this could be before you begin your cohabitation or after your cohabitation has begun. If a cohabiting couple wishes to purchase a property to live in together, if the agreement starts on completion of their purchase, this makes the parties intentions in relation to the property very clear. It is important to ensure that the agreement is not executed at a time when either party could allege that they were pressured into entering the agreement against their will or out of desperation.
What are the advantages of a cohabitation agreement for me?
- Avoiding potential court proceedings
You could be avoiding the cost, acrimony and anxiety of future court litigation and as a result you may be able to “move on” with your life much earlier. Former cohabitees can often spend large amounts of money on court action to decide their respective shares in property which they either jointly own or which is owned solely by one of them but which the non-owning party made contributions to.
A properly drafted cohabitation agreement records the extent of each party’s interest in the property where they lived together and so reduces the chances costly legal disputes if their relationship comes to an end.
Entering into a cohabitation agreement gives you the flexibility to organise your financial affairs as you wish, both during and following cohabitation. A cohabitation agreement can in fact include a large range of issues and concerns. Some examples are as follows:
- By whom and in what proportions the mortgage and other household costs will be paid and whether this should impact on the extent of their respective interests in the property
- In what circumstances should the property be sold
- Ownership of other property such as investments, cars or furniture, if you separate
- The living arrangements and maintenance for your children, if you are no longer cohabiting
- Protecting your financial security
Cohabitation agreements allow you to record your intentions about the legal ownership of your personal property when you decide to live together and if you separate. For example, the agreement could state that you own a home in certain proportions and in the event of your separation from your partner it will be sold and the equity divided by the agreed percentages.
Unlike married couples, former cohabitees cannot make a claim for financial support (other than child maintenance) or for a share of their former cohabitee’s assets. However a cohabitation agreement can make provision for you to receive financial support or a share of your partner’s assets, if your relationship breaks down. A cohabitation agreement can include clauses for maintenance to be paid to a former cohabitee, to help you to get on your feet financially, if your relationship ends.
- Retention of your assets
If you have struggled to save a deposit for a house, you might be unwilling to risk a legal dispute about the extent of your interest in your home at some point in the future. A cohabitation agreement can help you prove the extent of your interest in a property and avoid costly litigation.
Alternatively if your parents have gifted funds to enable you to purchase a property and you want to cohabit with your partner in the property, a cohabitation agreement can help to protect the money they have put in.
In summary, having a cohabitation agreement in place and discussing each person’s rights and obligations in relation to the property at the outset of living together can avoid the acrimony, cost and uncertainty of litigation after cohabitation ends.
How can Lincolns Family Law help?
If you are planning to cohabit with your partner or if you are already in a cohabiting relationship and you want to talk to a solicitor about a cohabitation agreement tailored to your own particular circumstances, then please contact us. We offer a no obligation free enquiry if you just require a short chat, or alternatively you can call to arrange a fixed fee initial consultation, which will not be time limited, so you will have enough time to discuss your situation with us in detail. Once we know what your requirements are we can usually offer you a fixed fee quotation so when you instruct us you will already know what the entirety of your legal costs will be.