Most couples starting a relationship tend not to discuss what will happen if the relationship goes wrong.
Children and property issues will still arise but unmarried couples separating are treated differently at law from married couples and this can come as a nasty shock, especially if you have been living with someone for many years.
What can be done
Many cohabiting couples are not aware that they can draw up an agreement which can cover many or all aspects of their shared lives. It can determine how any property held is to be split upon the end of the relationship and what financial provision you may care to make post-separation, it can cover who is responsible for doing what on a day to day basis and it can clarify what will happen if one or the other of you acquires property independently of the other during the relationship. In this regard it operates in much the same way as a nuptial agreement.
Our Family & Relationships team can help and advise on the drawing up an agreement which can save a great deal of unhappiness, uncertainty and expense if the relationship breaks down.
We understand that it can be unpleasant to contemplate the end of a relationship, but it many couples have benefitted from knowing where they stand and removing uncertainty in their lives as a result of having a cohabitation agreement in place. Both parties to the agreement would need to take separate legal advice and this should be borne in mind as many people believe that one lawyer can act for them both.
It is all to common that co-habiting couples fail to have a meeting of minds, particularly as regards division of property held between them in the event that they separate. This can lead to costly court proceedings either in relation to any property held between them or in relation to their children where there is a dispute about their care and upbringing or in some cases where one party applies to the court for financial support of their behalf. All litigation is costly – a separation agreement can avoid this.
Please contact us if you would like more information about cohabitation issues.