There has been a marked increase in the number of cohabitation agreements or ‘no-nups’ being drawn up between unmarried couples in recent years. Some family lawyers say the figures have doubled in the last few years.
A cohabitation agreement is a legally binding contract that cohabitees (unmarried couples living together) can enter into to regulate their affairs. These agreements can determine how assets should be treated during the relationship and how they should be dealt with if the relationship breaks down. A cohabitation agreement can be entered into even if a couple are already cohabiting.
These agreements are very important because, unlike married couples, cohabiting couples have very few automatic legal rights. This can cause numerous problems. For example, if a house is in one partner’s name, the other partner will not be entitled to stay there if asked to leave. Nor will they automatically be entitled to a share in the proceeds if the house is sold.
Further, if one partner has looked after the house and children whilst the other works, they are not automatically entitled to a share of the savings, assets or income (save for child maintenance) of their partner and can find themselves financially vulnerable.
The increase in cohabitation agreements coincides with the growing trend for parents to provide their children with large sums to help buy a property, invest in a business idea or even to cover living costs. Many parents now insist on written agreements to ensure the money isn’t lost or wasted if their children later separate from their partners. Cohabitation agreements can help to ensure that family assets aren’t put at risk if a relationship breaks down.
Cohabitation agreements can help address these issues and help protect the interests of both partners, and their families, should the relationship break down.
Please contact Janet Raeburn on [email protected] or 01473 213 311 if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or would like advice on whether a cohabitation agreement would be right for you.
Janet Raeburn | Solicitor
Family Department, Kerseys