A new year may bring a lot of new changes, maybe you’re considering moving in with your partner, or sharing a house with friends. Whatever the new year has in store for your living arrangements, a cohabitation agreement could form a vital part of the ‘move-in checklist’ to ensure your rights are protected if a dispute ever occurs.
We’ve answered the five most common questions when considering a cohabitation agreement to help you decide if it’s the right move for you.
1- What are Cohabitation Agreements?
A cohabitation agreement is a legal document, usually drawn up for couples who are unmarried or outside of a civil partnership.
The agreement sets out each person’s financial responsibilities, including the amount they will contribute to the mortgage, rent, household bills or child support. It can also set out your next of kin rights, along with any wishes should you fall ill. You can opt to share each other’s assets or have access to each other’s pensions if you so choose.
2- Who should get a cohabitation agreement?
Cohabitation agreements are most common in unmarried couples who have been together long-term. Even if you have been living together for years in the same house, if one person owns that property wholly, you may not be entitled to any of the property if a separation occurs.
That said, cohabitation agreements are versatile and can also extend to non-romantic relationships too. It is becoming more and more common for friends, family members and those with housemates to enter into cohabitation agreements.
3- Why should you consider a cohabitation agreement?
A cohabitation agreement is useful to have as it could be your lifeline if a dispute were to arise with your partner or housemate, protecting your assets and overall financial well-being.
For example, if the person you are living with fails to contribute to the rental payments or mortgage as set out in the agreement, you will have legal rights to take them to court over those payments.
The document will set out your rights and can avoid expensive litigation in such circumstances, mitigating any tension or disputes that have already been covered in the agreement.
We live in a world where marriage and civil partnerships are no longer the norm, with more and more couples choosing never to legally recognise their relationship. Whether it is for financial or personal reasons, if this sounds like you, a cohabitation agreement is ideal for protecting your future, accounting for unforeseen circumstances, relationship breakdowns and medical emergencies.
4- How and when should I get a cohabitation agreement?
You can create a cohabitation agreement at any time, however, it is best created when moving into or buying a new house, getting a new housemate, or having children. Without one, you do not have any rights.
To enter into a cohabitation agreement, both parties need to enter into it freely and voluntarily. It might be best to open up a discussion with the person you are living with about how you want your assets to be divided, covering investments, property, pensions, or savings.
Once the specifics are drawn up, the agreement must be signed by both parties and it must be kept up to date with any major life changes including the birth of a child or significant illness.
5- How is a Cohabitation Agreement enforceable in court?
A cohabitation agreement is only enforceable in court if it is executed correctly, therefore, we recommend you seek independent legal advice to discuss your intentions and enter into a binding agreement without any doubt over what was agreed.
At Beyond Legal, we can help you draft the agreement and ensure the correct formalities have been taken to execute the document by deed. Get in touch for a free consultation today.