Living Together / Cohabitation


Living Together / Cohabitation
Approximately one sixth of couples live together in Britain and do not marry. This figure is predicted to continue to rise. Living together does not however give either party any automatic financial protection in the event the relationship ends. Despite the common belief to the contrary, there is no such thing as a “common law wife”. For unmarried couples there is no right to claim maintenance from the other person if the relationship ends and any rights in property, have to be determined by property law and the law relating to trusts.

Couples may therefore wish to enter into cohabitation agreements when they decide to live together, to set out their intentions so far as the ownership of their property is concerned and their financial responsibilities. If the relationship ends, such agreements can help clarify what was intended if a dispute arises.

When couples purchase a property together, they can formally record what share in the property it is intended they are each to have; whether it be an equal one, or otherwise. These arrangements can be recorded in a trust deed.

Pre-Nuptial Agreements

Before couples marry or enter a civil partnership, they can enter into an agreement with a view to setting out what should happen to their property and finances if their marriage/partnership should unfortunately end. Such agreements are commonly known as pre-nuptial agreements, or pre-civil partnership agreements.

Although such agreements are binding in many other countries, despite the impression given by the media, they are not binding under English law. Following a recent decision in in the Supreme Court however, it has been decided that the English court should give effect to such agreements where they were freely entered into by each party, with a full appreciation of the implications; unless in the circumstances prevailing if would not be fair to hold the parties to their agreement.

Pre-nuptial agreements and pre-civil partnership agreements are a growing area. They may be of particular interest to couples:

  1. who already have children and who are embarking on second marriages;
  2. who are marrying later in life and who already have assets of their own;
  3. with inherited or pre-marital assets

who all may wish to clearly set out what is intended so far as their assets are concerned in the event that their relationship should regrettably end in the future.

Please contact Kim Finnis to discuss your requirements on 01483 539100.