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Legal News | 20.03.23

Legal protection for unmarried couples

Legal protection for unmarried couples - Wansbroughs' divorce and separation team

There are over 3.6 million cohabiting couples in the UK.  There is a widespread assumption that individuals within such relationships will obtain similar rights and privileges to married couples over time. Unfortunately, that assumption is wholly wrong.  Although limited exceptions will apply in some circumstances, such as when there are young children of the relationship, the Court’s powers upon the breakdown of a cohabiting relationship are largely confined to clarifying who owns what.

This has led to an increasing number of unmarried couples obtaining a cohabitation or living together agreement. This is a contract that addresses various aspects of a cohabiting relationship, for example, the division of household bills. It can also determine the ownership of property on the breakdown of the relationship. These agreements are governed by ordinary rules of contract and can therefore only be challenged on any of the ordinary contractual principles such as fraud, duress, undue influence, misrepresentation or mistake.

The four key elements which must be satisfied for a valid cohabitation agreement are:

  • There must be full and frank financial disclosure from both parties to each other;
  • Both parties must be entering the agreement voluntarily and in the absence of any undue influence or pressure;
  • Both parties should receive independent legal advice so that it may be demonstrated that each understood the consequences of the agreement that they were entering;
  • The agreement must be properly drafted and executed as a deed.

A well-drafted cohabitation agreement can help to reduce the possibility of a dispute about ownership if cohabitation ends, and therefore limit the chances of costly litigation.

At Wansbroughs, our trusted Divorce & Separation lawyers have much experience in drafting and advising on cohabitation agreements and living together agreements.  The team is frequently recommended in the Legal 500 for their ‘good knowledge’, ‘carefully thought out statements’ and ability to ‘go the extra mile’ for clients.

We provide free initial advice appointments (up to 30 minutes) enabling you to meet one of the Divorce & Separation team and discuss your concerns freely and confidentially.

If you would like any further information on our Divorce & Separation services and to make an appointment please contact the team on 01380 733300 or email family@wansbroughs.com


Posted By Our Divorce & Separation Team