Separation and Co-habitation

There are more than 3.6 million cohabiting couples in the UK.

Marriage has become less important in modern-day relationships, with many pairings choosing to live and build lives together without getting married or entering a civil partnership.

If this is you, it’s important to take sensible steps now to protect yourself should your relationship break down in the future.

Here at Mark Reynolds Solicitors, our team of separation and cohabitation solicitors has helped many cohabiting couples in the North West of England to prepare for the future and resolve cohabiting disputes involving financial issues and children.

We’re here to answer your questions, and offer a 30-minute free consultation to help you understand your options.

You can call us at any of our branches in Warrington, Liverpool, Runcorn, or Leigh.

What rights do cohabiting couples have?

Unfortunately, the law has not yet caught up with modern-day families.

Common law marriage is a myth, and those living with a partner outside of marriage or civil partnership don’t have the same legal rights as married couples.

If a cohabiting couple separates, their property and assets are divided according to standard property law rather than marital law unless they plan ahead.

When cohabiting couples separate, splitting their assets can be complex and emotional.

While it may not seem romantic, drawing up legal agreements before or during cohabitation can help minimise stress and conflict and provide financial protection if the relationship breaks down in the future.

What is a pre-cohabitation agreement?

A pre-cohabitation agreement is a legally binding document that couples can use to agree on how various issues will be dealt with while cohabiting and if their relationship ends.

A cohabitation agreement can give clarity and protect each party’s rights.

The types of issues that can be covered in a cohabitation agreement include:

  • How bills and debts will be covered
  • The percentage that each party owns of any shared property
  • What would happen to their shared home if they separated
  • Child arrangements if their relationship breaks down
  • How assets would be divided if their relationship ended

Getting a cohabitation agreement before living together is a good idea, but one can still be drawn up at any time during a relationship.

Are cohabitation agreements legally binding?

Cohabitation agreements are legally binding documents, provided certain criteria have been met.

For a cohabitation agreement to hold up in court, the following must be true:

  • The agreement is fair
  • Both parties received independent legal advice before signing the agreement
  • Neither party was under pressure to sign the agreement
  • Both parties had fully disclosed their finances when the agreement was made

Both parties should seek legal advice before signing a cohabitation agreement to ensure that they understand their rights and obligations and that the agreement is fair and will hold up in court.

Resolving cohabitation disputes

When a cohabiting couple separates, and there is no cohabitation agreement in place, it’s common for issues to arise.

Unlike married couples, there’s no formal process for dividing a cohabiting couple’s assets if their relationship ends. Instead, if they cannot agree, the laws on trust and property must be applied to each disputed asset.

This can be complex, particularly if one party has sole ownership of an asset, like a property, in which the other party believes they have a financial interest.

At Mark Reynolds Solicitors, our separation and cohabitation solicitors resolve most cohabitation disputes out of court through mediation or a dispute resolution process.

However, if your case requires court representation, our team can help with this too.

Why choose Mark Reynolds Solicitors for separation and cohabitation issues?

Life is full of twists and turns, and whether or not you plan to get married, all couples need to plan and prepare to protect their rights and assets if their relationship ends.

At Mark Reynolds Solicitors, our team of separation and cohabitation solicitors has assisted countless couples draw up agreements and resolve disputes in a mutually acceptable way for both parties, minimising conflict and distress now and in the future.

Whether you need a cohabitation agreement, mediation services, a declaration of trust, or a will, our family law specialists are here to provide you with legal protection.

For more information about our services for cohabiting couples or to arrange a free initial consultation with one of our separation and cohabitation solicitors, call our offices on 0800 0029 577 or complete our online enquiry form, and we will call you back.