Cohabitation Agreements 101: What They Are
#Introduction to Cohabitation Agreements
For couples who decide to share their lives and move in together, it’s an exciting and meaningful step in their journey. In previous articles, we discussed the pros and cons of living together and explored the types of things you should consider before taking this step. One of the things we recommend you consider is a cohabitation agreement.
What is a Cohabitation Agreement?
A cohabitation agreement is a legal document made between couples who are not married, but are either living together, or looking to live together in the future.
The agreement itself can cover areas such as financial arrangements, property ownership, and children while you’re living together, but also what would happen in the event that you separate or if either person becomes seriously ill or dies.
Cohabitation agreements are therefore a great way to safeguard each person’s interests in the relationship and discuss what would happen if you face unexpected challenges.
Why Consider a Cohabitation Agreement?
While a cohabitation agreement is not a requirement, it can be a valuable tool for couples to set out their mutual responsibilities. This is particularly important as many are under the illusion that if a couple lives together long enough, they obtain legal rights equivalent to those of a married couple (known as the “common-law marriage myth”). This is not the case. A cohabitation agreement can therefore reduce misunderstandings and potential conflicts in the future. It offers legal protection for both partners, ensuring each person’s rights and interests are recognised and upheld. It also allows couples to tailor the terms to suit their unique needs and circumstances. A cohabitation agreement can help you navigate potential challenges with confidence.
How does a Cohabitation Agreement Work?
There are 5 key steps in creating a cohabitation agreement.
1. Consultation: Seek legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in family law to understand the legal implications and options available.
2. Negotiation: Both partners discuss and agree on the terms and conditions of the agreement. This includes property, finances, support, assets, children and more.
3. Drafting: A legal professional will draft an agreement that accurately reflects both partners’ decisions and adheres to the law.
4. Review: Review the agreement to ensure your intentions and all necessary aspects are covered.
5. Signing: Both partners sign the agreement in the presence of witnesses.