No matter the length of time, any couple living together have fewer rights than those that are married or within a civil partnership.
It is important to document your intentions in advance to offer legal protection if the relationship were to breakdown.
We can minimise the legal and financial problems associated with separation through a cohabitation agreement. The terms “Common law spouses” or “common law husband and wife” do not confer any legal rights or financial obligations, so if no contract is drawn you could be left with nothing, or a complex and costly dispute.
You should question the following
- What are the financial arrangements? – Who will pay the rent or the mortgage, and how will you divide the bills? Will you purchase the property together and who owns shared belongings?
- What would happen should you separate or your partner dies? – Unfortunately you will be unable to claim maintenance or a share in the property or assets; even if purchased jointly or equally contributed to. Unless a Will is drafted prior to death, then a cohabitation agreement will be the only document outlining how you will divide joint purchases, property, personal belongings and savings.
- What should happen to the children? – How will you support your children should you break up? How will you agree on maintenance, welfare, education and contact arrangements?
Once agreed at the beginning, this can save on the pressures and heartache in the event of a break up.