There is a common misconception that couples who live together are common law spouses and have the same rights as married couples.
However, this is not the case as the common law marriage simply does not exist. Sometimes couples live together for many years and are then shocked to discover on separation that they do not have the same rights as married couples. Whilst marriage gives couples the potential to claim against all of each other’s financial assets, this is not the case for couples who live together. Couples who live together should therefore consider entering into cohabitation or living together agreements.
Cohabitation or living together agreements may record the amount each party has contributed towards the finances and home and outline how financial matters are to be divided in the event of separation. They may also deal with arrangements for any children and the financial support that is to be given to them by each parent.
If couples who live together are intending to marry, they should consider entering into a prenuptial agreement to clarify their position. This is particularly the case if there is a substantial difference between the parties’ financial positions, if there have been large financial contributions made by one party or members of their family, or if there are children from a previous marriage or relationship.
Prenuptial agreements set out how the financial assets are to be divided on divorce. Thus, the need for court involvement and associated legal costs on divorce may be prevented. Prenuptial agreements are likely to be held as binding if they are entered into correctly and are fair at the time of divorce.
Whilst it may seem an un-romantic gesture to enter into cohabitation,living together or prenuptial agreements, such agreements aim to prevent future disputes on separation or divorce.
For legal advice on living together / co-habitation agreements and pre-nuptial agreements please contact us or for an appointment contact any branch.