Cohabitation has been on the rise as more and more people choose to live together rather than marry or to cohabit before getting married. What many fail to realise is that there is very little protection from the law for those who cohabit rather than marry. Even though there has been a call for change to this, to date, no changes have come through.
When a married couple separate, if the financial consequences cannot be agreed the court can interfere and assist in dividing the assets, determining financial consequences to include debts and with other matters including arrangements for children in a manner which the court thinks it would be fair for both party. The court considers many aspects and the Matrimonial Causes Act guides the court as to which factors needs to be considered. However for the couples who have cohabited but have now split, the partners do not have the same rights and there are few Acts to guide them. The starting point for division of assets on the breakdown of a cohabiting couple is that the shares are those that are recorded on paper and unless a property or asset is owned in joint names there needs to be evidence of intention to share assets, debts and finances.
When cohabitees separate, the partner has obligations to support the children however this obligation only reaches as far as the children and there are no requirements to support the other partner in anyway.
As mentioned above, it is important to have evidence of any kind of agreements or intentions in writing. Such evidence can be in the form of:
- Cohabitation agreement
This will set out joint intentions regarding property, arrangements, children, finance, support and any other matters which you both wish to agree and have in writing. This documents can cover anything you wish to have in writing.
- Declaration Trust
This document will assist in setting out who owns the property and in what shares. If any loans were taken out to purchase the property, the details of such loan together with how it is to be paid back will be detailed in this Trust.
If you or your partner passes away, you or your partner will not have rights to inherit without a Will. Also, simply living in a home together does not entitle you to have any rights over the property unless you own it together or your name is mentioned in the Will as a beneficiary of the home.
It is very difficult to prove intentions without these documents and to prove to the court your rights can be a costly affair. To prevent this, one of the three documents above would be a good way to show your interest.
If you wish to seek further advice and see what would be the best option for you, please contact us on 02087359770.