Should the relationship fail
The practical guidelines laid out in a cohabitation agreement will make it clear for both parties what will be expected of them should the relationship break down. This could save thousands of pounds in legal fees in the future. As advised in the guide to cohabitation disputes the Courts do not recognise ‘a common law marriage’. It is also important to consider what you would want to happen should you separate from your partner or in the event either of you passed away.
It is also important to consider at the start of a relationship whether you wish your partner, friend or family member to have an interest in your property. If you own a property in your sole name and your partner, friend or family member is moving in with you they may later try to claim an interest in your property.
To enable a partner, friend or family member to claim an interest they would have to prove that you intended that they should have an interest when the property was purchased or when they moved into the property. Also they would have to prove that they have contributed to the property by financial payments i.e. payment of or towards the household bills or the mortgage.
A second method of obtaining an interest is if they have provided a substantial contribution to the property for example by paying for a home improvement. In the event you do not wish for the person moving into your property to have an interest then it would be advisable that you protect your property from any future claims. Cohabitation agreements can be drafted to reflect this and to make sure your position is safeguarded in the event your relationship breaks down.
Cohabitation agreement - things you should consider
- Would you like the agreement to be legally binding or a statement of expectations?
- On separation should the property be sold or transferred to one of the parties?
- Does a party have an interest in a solely owned property?
- Individual and joint debts
- Inheritance and wills
- How will disputes between you be resolved?
- What length of time will the cohabitation agreement cover?
- How will furniture and belongings be divided?
Should your relationship breakdown and you and your ex-partner / friend / family member are unable to resolve any arising disputes amicably it is important that you have a cohabitation agreement in place which meets the correct legal criteria and expert advice should be sought from the outset to ensure that you are protected to the fullest. However, whilst Courts are showing more willingness to consider cohabitation agreements there is still no guarantee that they will enforce the terms of one.
Should you require further advice in relation to cohabitation agreements and whether this will suit your needs or if you require an agreement drafting please do not hesitate to contact our specialist team who will be able to assist you. In a straight forward case most agreements can be drafted for a fixed fee of £600 inclusive of VAT.