24 June 2024

Cohabitation Agreements: Frequently Asked Questions

Cohabitation Agreements: FAQs

Recent statistics produced by the Office for National Statistics indicate that the number of couples who are married in England and Wales has dropped below 50% for the first time on record. The most recent data would seem to suggest that couples are more frequently deciding to cohabit rather than to marry. For this reason, Cohabitation Agreements have become incredibly popular.

Lynsey Roadnight, solicitor in the Family Team, answers a number of frequently asked questions to assist you in determining whether this option may be right for you.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A Cohabitation Agreement is a written agreement made between two or more people who are living together (most commonly unmarried couples), which sets out arrangements in relation to matters such as their finances, property, children, and even pets, both for the duration of their relationship and also in the event that they should separate.

Who should get a Cohabitation Agreement?

Cohabitation Agreements are most commonly made by couples who are living together but do not wish to marry.

Why should I get a Cohabitation Agreement?

Whilst there is no requirement for cohabiting couples to make a Cohabitation Agreement, the agreement offers a layer of protection should anything go wrong in the future. There is currently very little protection within the law in England and Wales for separating couples who are living together but unmarried, no matter what the duration of the relationship. Unless a couple decides to marry or enter into a civil partnership, they do not have the same financial claims available to them as a married couple.

When should I get a Cohabitation Agreement?

It is a good idea for couples to set out their intentions in a Cohabitation Agreement from the outset when deciding to live together, so as to avoid potential litigation should things go wrong later down the line. However, Cohabitation Agreements can be made at any time during the course of a relationship.

Is a Cohabitation Agreement Legally Binding?

Provided the Cohabitation Agreement has been properly drafted, executed and signed by each party as a Deed, it forms a legally binding contract between the couple.

Does the Cohabitation Agreement need to be drafted by a Solicitor?

We would always recommend that any Cohabitation Agreement is drafted by a Family Law Solicitor. This will ensure that the agreement is drafted in such a way so as to accurately reflect your intentions and also to ensure that it is enforceable in court should that become necessary in the future.

Can the same Solicitor act for us both?

No. Each party should seek their own independent legal advice so that they can be satisfied that they understand the terms of the agreement and that it accurately reflects each party’s intentions. It is important that the agreement is made by each party’s own free will and that there has been no undue influence.

Does the Cohabitation Agreement need to be reviewed in the future?

Yes, it is a good idea to periodically review your Cohabitation Agreement once drafted, to ensure that it is still meeting your needs and reflecting your intentions; particularly where there have been significant changes in the relationship, such as the birth of any children or the inheritance of property or assets.

Cohabitation solicitors Howell Jones has the expertise to help you prepare a cohabitation agreement and make sure it is legally binding. Contact us today to get started.

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