Property Rights for Cohabitants30-Jan-2017

As long ago as July 2007, The Law Commission published its report Cohabitation: the Financial Consequences of Relationship Breakdown. The report recommended developing a legal framework creating and dealing with the property rights of cohabiting partners if their relationship broke down.

Ten years on the Government is still considering the proposals.

In Scotland the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 gives rights to unmarried couples if their relationship breaks down. These are not exactly the same rights that divorcing couples have – they are ‘married rights lite’ so to speak.

South of the border, in England and Wales, the hope was that the government would take on board The Law Commission’s recommendations and introduce legislation here to give cohabiting couples similar rights to married couples. This hasn’t happened.

That doesn’t mean that cohabiting couples will be left out in the cold; they can take action to achieve security and stability – by creating and agreeing a cohabitation agreement.

Cohabitation agreements are already recognised in England & Wales as being legally binding. They can be drafted to cover all eventualities, including how you will deal with property that you already own, how you’ll share property that you acquire during your relationship, what you’ll do in relation to bank accounts, debts and any credit agreements, right down to a policy on pets and smoking! Very importantly, provisions should be included concerning arrangements for children should you separate.

In the excitement of creating a new life together it’s easy to believe that all will be well for evermore. The fact is, that many couples start living together when one, or other already has significant assets. Consequently, contributions to the new relationship may not be anything like equal. The sensible course is to reflect this in an agreement.

If you are unmarried, it really is simple to make an appointment with a solicitor, discuss your needs and draft a Cohabitation Agreement covering all eventualities. You will get the protection of an agreement behind you and live more contentedly, knowing that you’ve taken all the necessary precautions.

If you want to know more about the legal issues around divorce and separation then contact the Family Team at Cullimore Dutton Solicitors on 01244 356 789