Regardless of how long a couple has lived together, and whether or not they have children within that relationship, English and Welsh Law does not recognise co-habitation as being of equal status to marriage and, therefore, does not provide the same level of protection should the relationship break down. There are no automatic rights to maintenance nor to a share in property which is in one person’s name, even if the couple had lived in it together for 30 years and both partners contributed to the mortgage. Equally, should one partner die without having left a Will, the surviving partner will not be entitled to any part of the deceased person’s estate, and the rules governing intestacy will apply.
Co-habitation agreements are there to protect unmarried couples in the event of a break-down in the relationship. They are legally binding agreements provided both partners have received independent legal advice prior to signing. The agreement sets out exactly who owns what, how assets should be divided, maintenance for any children and maintenance for one of the partners, if necessary.
It is an exciting time when a couple decides to live together, however prudence at the beginning may save a lot of heartache and expense if the relationship fails later on, which is why it is important to protect yourselves with a co-habitation agreement. Our family lawyers are experienced at drafting these agreements and will be able to answer any questions you may have.
An agreement can be taken out at any stage. Those in long-term relationships may also wish to speak to one of our private client lawyers about making a Will – giving you peace of mind, knowing that your partner will be taken care of should you predecease them.
Speak to a member of our Family team on 01392 477983 or request a call back.
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