As we are getting started on the New Year it is time to ensure that your financial affairs are in order. If you are living together with someone, or thinking about it, you could save money, time and hassle by reading this. The blog looks at why a cohabitation agreement might be a way forward for couples living togther or thinking about living together.
No-one wants to go into a relationship thinking it may come to an end. However, when you are investing money in large assets, such as a home, it is a vital to consider what could happen financially if the relationship breaks down. Safeguards should be put in place for you and your partner in case you separate.
It is estimated that approximately 5.6 million people in England and Wales are living together and are not married or in a civil partnership. Approximately 50% of the population mistakenly believes that Common Law Marriage exists and that this provides cohabiting couples with similar, if not the same rights, as married couples.Common Law Marriage had not existed in England and Wales since 1753. This mistaken belief has left many in serious financial difficulties following a break up.
Currently there is very little legal protection for couples who separate after living together. Instead of having one clear avenue of protection by law, there are separate avenues, none of which was really meant to protect cohabiting couples. By contrast, for married people, under just one avenue, the Court will strive to achieve a fair outcome for both parties so that they are financially able to start their new post-married lives. The Court is unable to do this following the breakdown of a cohabiting relationship and has to treat the two parties as unrelated individuals and consider the cold, hard facts and figures of the case. This often ends in legally and technically complex cases that cost a vast amount of money for both parties, and do not necessarily achieve a fair outcome in accordance with family law principles.
The law desperately needs to be changed but this does not seem likely in the near future. The only ways for cohabiting couples to have protection is to get married, or draw up a cohabitation agreement. A cohabitation agreement is less expensive and less stressful than a wedding. The agreement starts as a blank canvass to formalise any potential areas of conflict and it binds both parties to the agreement that is reached. It can set out who owns what assets in what shares and who is responsible for any debts. It can set out how to divide assets on separation. It is also possible to draw up the cohabitation agreement to ensure there are financial provisions for the children of the family, above and beyond the legal requirement.
At The Law House we can advise you on all aspect of cohabitation agreement and family law. For more information please contact Venisha Shah on 020 8899 6620 or email firstname.lastname@example.org