The number of couples choosing to live together has increased significantly in recent years, but the law has not kept pace. Couples who live together may acquire significant assets such as property, finance and possessions.

When a marriage breaks down, the law offers protection and a fair division of assets through divorce. This is not the case for cohabiting couples. There is no such thing as a common law wife or husband.

As cohabitation solicitors, we can provide a “living together agreement” for unmarried partners, which can provide certainty to the different aspects of a cohabiting couple’s relationship and provide protection in the future. The agreement can deal with current issues such as who should be responsible for the household bills or how they should be shared if there is to be joint responsibility. It can also detail how your financial relationship will alter if you have children together, avoid disputes and crucially, it will deal with the rights and obligations of each party to the agreement should your relationship come to an end. If this does happen, the division of assets is often very complex. It can be especially complicated, for example, if property is held in one person’s name. A living together agreement clearly states how these assets should be divided.

When drafting a living together agreement

  • you and your partner must seek and obtain independent legal advice
  • your lawyers must sign the agreement to confirm that this requirement has been met
  • you must give full disclosure of your assets and other financial circumstances.

Your circumstances are likely to change so if you have a living together agreement, you should regularly review it to ensure that it still reflects your current wishes. We recommend agreements should be reviewed every three to five years and on the occasion of a major event such as the birth of a child.

All of our family and divorce lawyers are members of Resolution and subscribe to the Resolution Code of Practice. This promotes an approach to family law that is sensitive, constructive, cost-effective and most likely to result in an agreement.

To discuss the “living together agreement” and to find out about your legal rights and responsibilities, contact us today.

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