There is no such thing as a “common law” husband or wife. Consequently, if you are not married and your relationship breaks down you may not be protected financially. The Court has no power to manage the affairs of unmarried couples and therefore an Agreement may be appropriate to protect financial interests.

Living Together Agreements (also known as Cohabitation Agreements set out who owns what within the relationship and address how assets and liabilities are to be divided in the event that the couple separate. The Agreement can also set out how finances will be managed during the relationship (i.e. who is responsible for paying specific bills).

We have considerable experience of advising clients in relation to Living Together Agreements and drafting the Agreements to ensure financial positions are protected.

1. Is a Living Together Agreement legally binding?

Yes, the court does not have jurisdiction to address the issues faced by separating unmarried couples (save for property ownership disputes)and therefore the Agreement would take precedence. It is important to note however that it must have been executed effectively with both parties obtaining independent legal advice upon the content of the Agreement.

2. Can we prepare an Agreement ourselves?

Whilst you can negotiate and prepare an Agreement between yourselves, this may not be upheld by the Courts if both parties have not obtained independent legal advice. Although there will be legal costs for preparing an agreement, these are likely to be considerably less than the legal fees involved in resolving a dispute if the relationship breaks down in the absence of an Agreement.

3. How else can cohabiting couples protect themselves?

  • Bank accounts – if you and your partner are considering opening joint accounts it may be sensible to ensure any overdraft facility is limited or that withdrawals over a certain value must be jointly authorised. You are ‘jointly and severally liable’ under the account and if it is overdrawn you could find yourself responsible for repaying the entire debt.
  • Property – if you and your partner intend to own a property jointly (or if you have financially contributed to your partner’s property) it is sensible to protect your financial interest (Property Ownership & Property Disputes).

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