Living together during Covid 19 and beyond

For many couples, Covid 19 has accelerated a decision to cohabit. Some cohabitees may believe they already have immediate financial protection as a result. This is unlikely to be the case.

Cohabiting couples do not enjoy the same legal rights as married couples or those in a civil partnership. There is no such thing as a common law spouse, common law marriage rights or cohabitant’s rights.

The importance of a Cohabitation Agreement

If you are cohabiting you should strongly consider entering into a Cohabitation Agreement.

A Cohabitation Agreement is a formal legal document for unmarried couples of mixed-sex or same-sex who live together. These agreements set out who owns what, how financial and other matters are dealt with during cohabitation and who is entitled to what if the couple separates.

A cohabitation agreement can legally define and protect the parties’ share in the property they live in and other shared assets should they separate in the future.

Many parents help couples fund a mortgage or rent. In these situations, parents will not normally want any large sum they have invested to be split equally with their child and their estranged partner should they separate.

If you own a property, you may have already signed a Declaration of Trust for your mortgage setting out your legal interest in the property you own. Whilst a Declaration of Trust can only deal with interest in property a Cohabitation Agreements cover many other factors which can often be the cause of arguments between couples. If these are not considered before or during cohabitation matters can become very complicated, stressful and expensive to deal with, especially if the parties separate in the future.

What else can a Cohabitation Agreement cover?

A Cohabitation Agreement makes it clear who is responsible for paying what during the relationship such as household bills and whether these are to be shared and if so whether they are to be shared equally or in unequal proportions. It can also specify what is to happen to incomes and whether there is to be a joint account.

Many parties already have assets acquired before they cohabit such as from the sale of a previous property or from an inheritance. How these are to be treated and what happens to such assets if there is a separation is also included within a Cohabitation Agreement, as too are assets acquired during cohabitation.

Responsibility for debts is also covered confirming whether each party will be responsible for their own debts or whether they will be a joint liability.

By dealing with matters such as these in a Cohabitation Agreement, couples are less likely to have rows about how they arrange their financial affairs and by avoiding these rows couples are less likely to separate in the first place.

For further assistance and specialist advice regarding the above, please contact Victoria Furlong for a free 30 minute no obligation remote consultation on 01284 715675 ( DD) ; 07889 215 998 ( M or text); or victoria.furlong@rudlings-wakelam.co.uk;