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Covid 19 and Cohabitation Agreements – What you should know!

Due to the current national lockdown, it is recognised that the dynamic of many households have changed and to prevent complete isolation many individuals have made the decision to cohabit with one another.

While everyone’s absolute priority is public health and keeping our families and those around us safe it is important to also acknowledge the effects that cohabiting without an agreement could have on individuals.

What is a cohabitation agreement?

A Cohabitation Agreement is an agreement made between parties who are cohabitating or intend to cohabit. An agreement would set out the details of ownership of existing assets and property and can also provide details on your financial responsibilities and contributions towards one another.

A cohabitation agreement can provide security in the event of a separation if you have included information about how property would be divided in this event.

What would a cohabitation agreement cover?

A cohabitation agreement is drafted to the individual’s circumstances and requirements. However, a cohabitation agreement can include information on the ownership and division of;

  • Pets
  • Bills
  • Bank or savings accounts/ Joint accounts
  • Liabilities or debts
  • Assets such as furniture, cars and personal belongings such as jewellery
  • Pensions
  • Life insurance
  • Business assets

A cohabitation agreement can be reviewed and amended, by consent. Therefore if your circumstances change Browell Smith and Co Solicitors can assist with reviewing your agreement, providing amendments or drafting a new agreement.

If you have a cohabitation agreement in place already and feel that this may need to be reviewed and updated please do not hesitate to contact our expert team.

Why do I need a cohabitation agreement?

It is a popular belief amongst people living together that they have the same legal protection as married couples. However, you have no express legal rights in a relationship if you are not married or in a civil partnership except in respect of jointly owned assets.

A cohabitation agreement should also be considered if one party provides a higher contribution to the arrangement or even if they have assets that they wish to protect.

It is therefore vital for individuals to consider making a cohabitation agreement so that in the event of a separation both parties would be in a fair and equal position.

We understand that when beginning a cohabitation journey it may not always be at the forefront of your mind to enter into a Cohabitation Agreement. However, it is important to consider that if a separation did occur drawn out litigation proceedings negotiating the ownership of property would be a lengthy and extremely costly process.

Who can have a cohabitation agreement?

Anyone that is cohabitating together could enter into a Cohabitation Agreement. It is a massive misconception that cohabitation agreements are for individuals in cohabitating romantic relationships.

Cohabitation agreements are in fact applicable to many different households such as friends who have chosen to reside with one another throughout the pandemic.

An agreement would be implemented in the same way and would still provide assurances and security.

I am already cohabitating is it too late to make a cohabitation agreement

No. A cohabitation agreement can be made even if you have already started living with one another providing the consent of both parties is obtained.

Is a cohabitation agreement legally binding?

A cohabitation agreement is a legal document that is enforceable by the Court. However, it is vital that both parties are honest about their finances and also seek independent legal advice to ensure that they have a complete understanding of the terms of the cohabitation agreement.

A cohabitation agreement should be reviewed by both parties on a regular basis to ensure that it remains relevant fair and up to date.

Can I draw up my own cohabitation agreement?

Although you may be able to draft your own cohabitation agreement by the use of templates it is important to know that an agreement must be applicable to each individual’s circumstances.

At Browell Smith and Co Solicitors we recognise that not all circumstances are the same and therefore it is important to have a correctly drafted agreement tailored to you. It is important to ensure that no mistakes are made within the drafting of the document and that it covers the assets to be protected of both parties.

Both parties are required to have sought legal advice before signing a cohabitation agreement for it to be upheld by the court.

Do I need to consider making a Will?

It is vital to be aware that it is not necessarily correct that in the unfortunate event of death the surviving cohabitee will be entitled to benefit from the property and assets owned by another. It would be dependent on how the property is owned and whether there is a legally valid Will in place.

Therefore it is important when cohabiting that you carefully consider estate planning and the implications that not making a Will could have. If you require advice on making a will please do not hesitate to contact our experienced Wills Trusts and Probate Team directly on 0191 691 2417.

Contact Our Team Today!

If your relationship dynamic has changed and you feel that a Cohabitation Agreement may be applicable to your circumstances contact our expert Family Law team today to arrange a no-obligation chat at any of our offices, in Newcastle, Cramlington, Ashington and Sunderland, or alternatively telephone our team directly on 0191 691 3418 to discuss your particular requirements.

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