Cohabitation Agreements- are they really necessary?

Danielle Celletti, Paralegal at Wansbroughs Solicitors in Melksham, explains about cohabitation agreements. 

The Office for National Statistics reports that numbers of cohabiting couples are growing faster than married couples; with an increase of 25.8% between 2008 and 2018. 

This demonstrates that a large number of people are choosing to set up home together without the ties that come with marriage. Couples may make this choice for perfectly good reasons, however, they need to be aware that they do not have the same legal rights as married couples and there may be future unseen pitfalls.
Why sign a cohabitation agreement? 

If an unmarried couple are living together, it is imperative that they sign a cohabitation agreement. Such an agreement can help to provide both parties of the relationship (and their children) with a greater degree of financial security. 

On the breakdown of the relationship or, sadly, in the event of the death of one of the couple, the cohabitant left behind can be at a serious disadvantage. This may include no financial support or even losing their home, if the deceased partner was the sole owner.
What will the agreement cover? 

•  How rent/mortgage and bills are to be paid and how this should be reflected at the time of separation; 
•  How finances should be managed i.e. joint bank accounts and pensions; 
•  Asset division - what should happen to the family home, any other jointly purchased investments and how their respective shares should be calculated? And; 
•  What arrangements have been agreed for the care of any children.
Who might require one? 

Many people! Including; 

•  Unmarried couples who are thinking of moving in together. This may involve entering into a joint mortgage or supporting children of the family; 
•  An individual who has inherited money which will be used to purchase a property with their partner; 
•  Friends who are planning to buy a house together.
The validity of the agreement 

•  The couple need to enter into the agreement individually and of their own volition. Both parties should obtain independent legal advice to ensure that they understand the agreement they are entering into; 
•  The agreement needs to be in form of a deed. Both parties must sign it and the signatures should be witnessed.
In summary 

Yes, cohabitation agreements are necessary. Relationships have evolved dramatically over the years, along with the changing views on the sanctity of marriage and the emancipation of women. Couples now, more than ever, need to be aware of the importance of cohabitation agreements. 

At Wansbroughs, we have a specialist Family Team who can help you to prepare a cohabitation agreement which addresses your individual needs. If you would like further information, we offer a free 30 minute initial consultation to all new enquiries. Call 01225 896100 or email family@wansbroughs.com.

Last updated 03/12/2019