Cohabiting Couples

Cohabiting Couples

| Published on February 7, 2018

Cohabiting Couples

If you live with your partner, but you are not married, engaged or in a civil partnership, then you are cohabiting. If your relationship breaks down, as a cohabitee you have limited legal protection, even if you do have children together, in comparison to couples that are married or in a civil partnership. The team of Family Lawyers at Humphries Kirk are here to advise you and your partner on your legal rights and to assist you both in taking the necessary precautions to ensure your assets are protected should separation occur.

“The number of cohabiting couple families in the UK has increased from 1.5 million in 1996 to 3.3 million in 2017, accounting for 17% of all families in the UK” – The Office of National Statistics (Families and Households 2017)

As you can see, cohabitation has become increasingly popular over the last two decades. Unfortunately, the law hasn’t quite caught up with modern day society in respect of cohabiting couples, as they are not yet legally recognised as a couple (i.e. there is no such thing as a ‘Common Law Marriage’), unlike marriage and civil partnership from which many legal rights and responsibilities flow. For example, when a married couple separate, the law permits the courts to distribute property and finances in a fair manner, yet this is not the case for unmarried couples, as on separation they do not have such automatic right to a share in each other’s property and finances. This is why we recommend cohabitees taking the necessary steps to ensure their assets are protected in any event.

At Humphries Kirk we understand the sensitive nature that surrounds protecting your assets, subsequently we aim to make you feel at ease throughout the whole process. Our specialist team of lawyers can advise you on all of your feasible options and determine which best suits your needs, whether this be:

  • Cohabitation Agreement – This is a bespoke legally binding document entered into by you and your partner, setting out your joint intentions in respect of finances, property and child arrangements, applicable whilst you reside together and/or on separation.
  • Declaration of Trust – This is also a legally binding document that sets out financial arrangements in relation to a property, ensuring fair division on sale of the property and/or if your relationship breaks down.
  • Will – This is a legal document by which a person (the testator), expresses their wishes as to how their finances, property and other assets are to be distributed on death, ensuring loved ones are catered for, avoiding the strict rules of intestacy (i.e. when someone dies without a will).

For further advice please contact the Family Team at our offices in Bournemouth on 01202 421 111, Crewkerne 01460 279100, Dorchester 01305 251007 or Poole on 01202 725400.

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