Cohabitation Awareness Week – 27 Nov to 1 Dec 2017

November 29, 2017

Over 3.3 million people now cohabit, the fastest growing family type in the UK.

As a nation we are bombarded with Awareness days, weeks or months designed to highlight a plethora of issues in today’s society. This month alone includes men’s health awareness, action on lung and pancreatic cancer, novel writing and even going vegetarian. This week is Cohabitation Awareness Week.

Over 3.3 million people now cohabit, the fastest growing family type in the UK. Despite regular press coverage, there is a startling lack of understanding of a person’s legal rights if they are not married or in a civil partnership. Statistics suggest that, shockingly, two thirds of people still believe that there exists a ‘common law marriage’.

The simple reality about cohabiting is that if your partner dies without leaving a will you will not automatically inherit anything unless there is property in joint names. If, say, you have given up a career to stay at home with the children you will not be entitled to maintenance, any property in your partner’s name, or have any entitlement to their assets or pension funds. Even savings or investments held in your partner’s name, but accrued during the relationship, will not entitle you to a share.

The bottom line is that cohabiting couples do not have to support each other financially after the breakdown of a relationship.  However, if you have children then both parents do still have a legal obligation to financially support them.

So where does that leave you if you are cohabiting?  Marriage or civil partnership automatically confer a comprehensive array of legal rights but if this is not an option, for whatever reason, then a Cohabitation Agreement is a way of avoiding potentially disastrous financial consequences if the relationship ends. These agreements can be tailor made to your requirements and can include your financial contributions to the relationship, as well as declarations of trust in respect of property, all of which can document contributions, business interests, savings and investments and more importantly how your finances will be arranged should the relationship sadly come to an end.

If you would like to talk to a member of our Family Law team about cohabitation agreements or making/updating a Will, please contact Sharon Trimmer.

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