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Most cohabiting couples believe that they have a ‘common law marriage’ which will be recognised as if they were married when something goes wrong, but this is a myth.
For example, if your partner dies you have no automatic right to inherit their property and no matter how long you have lived together it is not possible to claim maintenance.
If you live together, how you hold your property and your contribution to its purchase are very important. A cohabitation agreement can formalise these arrangements to ensure long term security for each partner. In addition, a cohabitation agreement can provide useful guidance for arrangements regarding:
- personal property
- credit agreements
- ownership or provision of cars
- liability for debts
- living expenses
- provision of life insurance for each other
- intentions in the event of death, serious illness or incapacity.
The agreement will also set out arrangements for how to proceed if the relationship ends. This can avoid problems and legal costs if you do split up. For example it may cover:
- termination of any agreed arrangements on death, marriage or separation
- agreement to terminate or vary the agreement, for example when a couple have children
- parental responsibility for the children and where they will live.
A cohabitation agreement is the best way of trying to ensure a secure future if things go wrong or if your partner dies.
It is important when entering into any agreement that you and your partner enter freely and voluntarily, that both of you have the benefit of independent legal advice and that full disclosure has been made of all relevant financial and other circumstances.
If you are interested in drawing up an agreement or need further information tailored to your specific needs, please contact a member of our specialist family team who will be able to help.
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