Cohabitation & Unmarried Families

Figures recently published by the Office for National Statistics show that the cohabiting family is the fastest growing family type in the UK. Unlike married couples, cohabitees do not benefit from legal protection. Until the law catches up with the new status quo, cohabitees must turn to complex laws of contract, property and trusts in the event of a breakdown in the relationship. It is very important, therefore, that you seek legal advice before you start living with another person in order to protect your position. Certainly, if you are contemplating purchasing property with another person or you are moving in to a property owned by another person, we strongly recommend you seek legal advice. Ultimately, we seek to place you in a secure position in the event of the relationship breaking down.

Depending on your circumstances, a Cohabitation Agreement may be appropriate to protect your best interests. A Cohabitation Agreement is a legally binding document which sets out a couples’ financial obligations. The aim of such an agreement is to reduce the uncertainty that can often arise in a cohabiting relationship.

Typically, a Cohabitation Agreement can set out:

What percentage of a jointly-owned property each partner owns.
How much each partner will contribute towards the rent/ Mortgage /Household bills etc.
What happens to the property if the relationship ends i.e. will it be sold or will the partner buy out the other’s half.

Financial Provision for Children

If you are a cohabiting family, the Court can make financial provision for your children in the event of a separation under the Children’s Act 1989. Under the current legal framework, a parent may be expected to provide any dependant children and the person caring for them with a home and the means to meet their needs. For example, the Court can order a parent to pay a contribution towards schools fees or provide a home while the child is dependant.

The type of provisions available will depend on your individual circumstances and those of your former partner.