Cohabitees are the fastest growing family type in the UK but are the most unprotected and oblivious to the drawbacks of cohabiting when it comes to legal rights. Many people wrongly think that after 2 years cohabiting they have a common law marriage but they don’t.
Upon the breakdown of a cohabiting relationship there are no legal rights to maintenance and no right to a pension share. There can be difficulties claiming shares of property or money owned by the former partner and the situation is very different from a divorce where the court can exercise discretion to do what is fair and take account of needs.
Inheritance is also an issue. Cohabiting parties do not inherit and a will must be made to avoid unintended consequences upon a partner’s death.
For many years family lawyers have lobbied the government to help establish rights for cohabiting couples but this has not been a government priority. Meanwhile it is recommended that legal advice should be taken.
Couples buying a house together should sit down and discuss what they intend their future financial arrangements to be. A Living Together Agreement can set these out clearly preventing costly disputes arising later over ownership and financial responsibility.
Following separation if there is no Living Together Agreement couples can record their future financial and family arrangements in a Separation Agreement or Deed. This could include what happens over the former home, payment of bills , how parents should treat each other in front of the children, what the arrangements are for the children sharing their time with both parents and what financial support should be made available.
Please contact us for sensible help and guidance.
RUTH TIBBETT – Head of family is a member of Resolution and an expert in her field. Recognition for Ruth’s specialist areas has been given with the award of specialist accreditation by Resolution for Ancillary Relief, Children and Domestic Violence issues.[jetpack-related-posts]