common law, cohabitation laws

Your guide to Living Together Agreements

| Published on September 11, 2015

Are you happily unmarried?

Are you planning to move in with your partner shortly?

More and more couples are choosing to live together without entering into a marriage or civil partnership.

There are plenty of differences to marriage and cohabitation rather than just a legal ceremony.  A marriage or civil partnership gives a party legal rights against the other in the event of a relationship breaking down or on death.  For cohabitees, the position is not the same. There is no such thing as a ‘common law husband’ or ‘common law wife’.  There is no legal recognition of cohabiting couples.

There is no law in England and Wales which sets out what should happen when a cohabiting relationship breaks down.  This is the same whether or not children are involved.

If an unmarried relationship breaks down, therefore it is necessary to use a patchwork of different laws to make a legal claim against a former partner, whether in respect of a house,  or other property, or for child maintenance.

Many cohabiting couples are not aware of this lack of legal protection until their relationship breaks down and they seek advice.  It can be shocking to be told that the situation is not as one had previously thought.

It is possible to address these issues, by entering into a Living Together Agreement (or Cohabitee Agreement) at the outset of a relationship. The agreement can address the terms on which a couple will live together, how any property will be owned and how to deal with matters should the relationship unfortunately break down.

Humphries Kirk can advise you on the effectiveness and requirements of a Living Together Agreement, assist you with the preparation of the agreement and provide you with clear legal advice on this issue.


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