“I do... not want to” – Cohabitation


By Gurpreet Chohan

Relationship and family dynamics have changed significantly over the last few decades, with less people tying the knot, and more couples living together as cohabitants. Marriage is not for everyone, and many people do not see that a marriage certificate would have any great impact on their daily family life. They are in love; they live together and they have a strong family unit, and enough to make their world go round comfortably. Daily I speak with people in this boat, who are now faced with this relationship breaking up, all asking the same question, “what am I legally entitled to?”

Cohabitants, up until recently, had no recognition within the law. Even today, they are not awarded the same protection as married couples or civil partners; there is no equitable split of assets accumulated during the course of the relationship. What is taken into consideration if assets are not in joint names are the investments and contributions cohabitants have personally made during this time, and the assets they had prior to this relationship.

So, how does this affect you?

Effectively this means that if you are the partner who reduced their hours at work, or gave up work completely, to look after children and run the household whilst your other half provided financially, then it would be difficult to quantify what your contributions have been. This potentially could leave you in a not very favourable financial situation should your relationship break down, as you are not entitled to the assets which are in your partner’s sole name.

So, is there any protection available for you?

Well, yes. The law regarding cohabitation is still forming and the process of trying to offer non-married couples more equitable protection is ongoing. Currently, however, your best option is to look into a drawing up cohabitation agreement.

Cohabitation agreements can be made to regulate your relationship, your interest in property and finances. It can further include details about how you and your partner would deal with debt and child care matters. In the event that your relationship does break down, you can also stipulate what is to happen with assets that are owned both jointly and separately. This would give you a little more assurance and could potentially save a biased outcome as to who is to keep what, at the end of relationship.

If you would like to be put in touch with a recommended family solicitor to advise you further on cohabitation agreements, please call Caven on 08001 221 2299 or fill out the web-form.

Gurpreet Chohan is one of Caven’s most experienced and knowledgeable telephone advisors.

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