The number of couples who are choosing to live together rather than to get married is on the increase, as is incidents of non-married couples breaking up. This can have a huge effect on the respective assets of the parties unless issues were considered at the outset.
It is now increasingly more common for couples in this position to have a Living together agreement drawn up. This becomes relevant when you consider that couples that live together have virtually no rights to use the system of law that is available to married couples. Therefore they are in a far more vulnerable position if the relationship breaks up or there is a death of one party.
For unmarried couples the courts can only determine who owns property and in what shares on the basis of actual contributions of unmarried couples and/or their intentions. It is very difficult to prove actual contributions and upon separation either of the parties or both may simply be unable to recall the original intentions.
A living together agreement which is also known as a cohabitation agreement provides the canvas for couples to record their intentions and records their respective contributions. This will leave them safe in the knowledge that if the relationship is to break down then the agreement will safeguard them financially.
Both parties will need to seek independent legal advice regarding the agreement as the parties need to intend to create legal relations for the agreement to be enforceable. However the agreement can include details regarding any number of issues the parties decide upon, the main areas being details regarding property, payment of mortgage, ownerships of the contents of a property and ownership of bank accounts.
Furthermore it may be advisable to have a Deed of Trust drafted which will set out the ownership and respective beneficial interest in the home. Unmarried couples living together may also need to consider issues regarding a will, any existing wills will need to be checked to ensure they are appropriate for the current circumstances especially if the parties are later in life and have pre-existing obligations such as children from a previous marriage.
If you have a query please contact one of our team directly for a telephone discussion or preliminary meeting free of charge. You can also complete a simple form and one of our team of solicitors will contact you as soon as possible to discuss your case.