“Common Law Property Rights?” 6 Things You Must Include In A Cohabitation Agreement


Ever wondered about Common Law Property Rights?

If you are moving in together you will be busy unpacking boxes and finding a home for everything. Or maybe you’ve been living together for a while and everything’s rosy.

But did you know there’s no such thing as common law marriage? And you don’t have the same rights as a married couple? This may come as a shock to you but don’t worry, there’s something you can do about it. If you’re still not convinced, see my blog 6 reasons why you need a cohabitation agreement

If you want an equal and sharing relationship with your partner, but you also want to protect your property from a claim should you split up, consult an expert family law solicitor.

Here are six things you will need to think about for your Cohabitation Agreement.

1. Property you owned before you moved in together

Couples often agree it will remain separate. They can also agree their partner can’t make a claim over it.

For example, you own your own home and your partner moves in. What if your partner makes payments on the mortgage? Or does work on the property? This could give them a claim over it. If this is not what you want, you really do need to be explicit about it.

2. Property you acquire after you move in together

The question is, do you buy it as joint tenants or as tenants in common? What do these terms mean and how can you protect yourself? See my blog Shall I buy a house with my partner for a quick and clear explanation.

But if the property is in the sole name of one of you, you need to address the issues raised in paragraph 1 above.

3. Household expenses

What if you don’t own your home jointly? Or if one of you earns more than the other?

Maybe you will agree unequal contributions. Maybe your partner will agree to contribute to the mortgage and acknowledge this will give them no claim over the property.

4. Inheritance and Wills

Did you know unmarried couples don’t automatically inherit each other’s estates if they die?

Life assurance can be important for the survivor. But if you do want to leave your estates to each other make sure you both have a will and you keep it up to date. See my recent blog, Do I need a will? Here’s one very good reason.

5. Children

If you have children already, you can provide for co-parenting if you split.

You can think about where the children will live and who will pay child maintenance and how much – see my blog What are your child maintenance options. You might want to consider the ownership of your home. After all, the children will need a roof over their heads.

You can also agree payments to the parent with whom the children will live if their earning capacity is likely to be reduced as a result.

6. Independent Legal Advice

Both of you will need to take independent legal advice. This means you will have no doubt about what you are agreeing, and it will make your agreement binding. And if your relationship ends, the Court is more likely to take notice of your agreement and put it into effect.

But please remember a Cohabitation Agreement must be revisited as your relationship evolves:

  • If children arrive
  • If your financial situation changes radically
  • There could be health problems, inheritances and issues concerning aging and elder care.

Cohabitation Agreements

Contact Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for free advice on cohabitation agreements. In this 20 minute session we will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family law solicitors offering personalised legal solutions. We offer collaborative law which is especially relevant in providing solutions tailored to your family’s needs. This includes same sex couples and their families. Visit our website just-family-law.com The topics covered in this blog post are complex and are provided for general guidance only. Therefore if any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog have application to you, seek expert legal advice.

image Man and woman silhouettes by Fred Bchx on Wikimedia Commons


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