Cohabitation agreement solicitors near you.
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What is the difference between cohabitation and marriage/civil partnership?
The facts are quite simple: married couples or those in a civil partnership have greater legal and financial protection than those couples who live together and who have not had their relationship legally recognised.
Why do cohabiting couples and married couples or those in a civil partnership have different protection?
Quite simply, because the laws have not been changed to give this protection to couples who are cohabiting. It does not matter if you have been together for two years or twenty.
Unfortunately, many people believe that there is a status of “common law marriage” that gives cohabitants the same rights as married couples after they have lived together for a certain amount of time. This is not the case and there is no such thing in English law as a "common law" husband or wife. Therefore the financial orders available to married couples or those in a civil partnership are not available to cohabitees.
Do married couples or those in a civil partnership have more rights than couples who are not in a legally recognised relationship?
Short answer – yes.
Being married to your partner or being in a civil partnership gives you important legal rights over things such as property and money. These are rights you wouldn’t have if you were simply living together.
Do you have to get married to get legal rights?
Short answer – no.
However it is advisable, if you want to ensure that you and your partner both have as much legal and financial protection as possible, that you consider a cohabitation agreement. This will set out how you will deal with money, property, childcare and anything else you wish to include, not just during the relationship but, more importantly, if the relationship breaks down. A cohabitation agreement is not legally binding but the Court will take the contents into consideration should any Court application be issued.
Here are some of the issues you may wish to consider when deciding whether to marry or enter into a civil partnership or just carry on living together:-
Joint bank accounts: the law treats the money in a joint bank account as being jointly owned regardless of who put what in. So, if one party dies, the money automatically belongs to the survivor. Also, if one party allows the account to become overdrawn, both parties are 'joint and severally liable' which means the bank can come to either party for the full amount owing.
In relation to accounts in the sole names of either of the parties, any balances will form part of the 'pot' available for distribution on divorce or dissolution
Bank accounts for cohabiting couples: If you
Are parental rights different if the parents are married?
Married: when your children are born both parents will automatically have parental responsibility so in the event of a divorce you will continue to make all major decisions about your children jointly.
Unmarried: only the birth mother will automatically gain parental responsibility. Unmarried fathers won’t automatically have parental responsibility if the child was born before 1st December 2003, though they will if the birth happened after that date and they are named on the birth certificate.
Are inheritance rights different for unmarried couples?
Married: If your spouse or civil partner dies intestate then you will usually inherit a part of the estate (unless someone else makes a claim on the estate but that’s a blog for another day!).
Unmarried: Should your partner die without leaving a will there is no automatic right for you to inherit their money or property so this could lease their estate open to claims from blood relatives. If this has happened to you or if you have any questions please contact our expert wills and probate team.
Setting up home as a Cohabitating Family, what should you do?
Ownership of the home: It is worth considering how you will own your home, whether that be a joint tenants or tenants in common both our Family Solicitors and our Property Solicitors in Preston recommend that an effective way to clarify the ownership of the family home, would be to arrange a Declaration of Trust. Such a Declaration can also allow important matters to be dealt with such as who will pay for repairs, insurances, mortgage repayments and what will happen if you do separate at a later date.
Life Insurance: It is important couples living together make provisions for life insurance to cover each of them against the financial consequences of the death of the other.
Wills: Our Wills and Probate Solicitors in Preston can help here. It is important to have a Will that makes provisions for the survivor.
Cohabitation Agreements: A cohabitating couple can enter into an agreement setting out arrangements that will apply while they are living together as well as establishing rights on the breakdown of the relationship. Our Family Law Solicitors in Lancaster, or, if closer, our Preston solicitors, can assist in drafting such an agreement.
When you make the decision to begin living with your Significant Other, contact your Local Solicitors, MG Legal to clarify how any property will be owned, arrange your Wills and of course enter into a cohabitation agreement. Call us now on 01995 602 129 or drop us an email via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why choose MG Legal?
Our expert family law solicitors specialise in unmarried couples' rights and they are therefore are well placed to give the best legal advice on cohabitation agreements. MG Legal’s expert family law team can guide you through the process and provide advice on where you stand legally – helping you to bring the certainty back into your life sooner than you think.
Make sure you choose the right legal team to advise you.
MG Legal – Your Local Solicitors (and YES, we are here to help!)