If you are in a relationship with your partner and are not married, you may be surprised to learn that there is no such thing as a “common law” husband or wife.
The term ‘cohabitation’ refers to couples who live together without marrying or entering into a civil partnership.
As a cohabiting couple you have limited and different legal rights and responsibilities in relation to property, finances and children than a married couple.
No matter how long you have been living together, this does not give either party any automatic rights over the other or the property.
You may have cohabited with someone for 25 years or more, but you may still have less rights than a person who has been married for 5 years or less.
Your lawyer can advise you on what your rights are if you are in an “unmarried dispute”.
We also offer proactive advice to cohabiting couples about what measures they can proactively put in place to identify and prevent any future difficulties.
Legal Advice for Cohabiting Couples
Living Together Agreements
We offer cohabiting couples our “Living Together Agreements”, whereby we advise on and draft an agreement setting out what has been agreed regarding the rights and responsibilites of the couple both during their relationship and in the event that the relationship should break down.
Wills for Cohabitees
We also advise that cohabitees have a Will in place, as cohabitees do not automatically inherit anything from their partner’s estate upon death and therefore the making of a Will is essential. We have an expert team of Will lawyers who can assist you in creating a Will to meet your requirements.
We also advise that cohabitees take financial advice in relation to obtaining suitable life insurance on each other’s life, to provide some measure of financial security in the event of the death of their cohabitee. This is because many pension schemes do not pay out the widows or widowers pension to a cohabitee, in the way they would if the parties had been married. We also advise that insurance may be necessary to pay Inheritance Tax, since the exemption a married spouse has in this regard is not available to a cohabitee.
To minimise the uncertainty regarding the legal ownership of the home, it is important that from the outset of the purchase of the property, cohabitees agree as to how their property is to be owned in the event of a relationship breakdown or death. We have property specialists who can help you resolve these considerations.