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Are you co-habiting? If things go wrong, make sure you are protected.

17th July 2017 by Jonathan Talbot

Categories: What's New?

Recent statistics show that there was a significant drop of 9% in the number of divorces in 2015 compared with the previous year, and a 34% decline from the last peak year for in divorces, in 2003.

This is thought to be due to many factors, two of which are;

  • Married couples are staying married longer
  • More people are living together unmarried or ‘co-habiting’ for a period of time often prior to marriage or making that commitment to their partner

If you are one of this growing group of co-habiting households in the UK (The Office of UK National Statistics estimates that there were 3.3 million cohabiting couples in 2016) do you know your legal rights?

Unfortunately, and contrary to what many believe, the UK legal system at the moment does not give the same rights to co-habiting couples as those who are married, and there is no legal significance to the term “common law” wife or husband so you should make sure that your rights are protected should one of you die or the relationship breaks down.

How can you protect yourself?

Make a Will.

Do not make assumptions about what will happen to your Estate when you die and make sure you have a Will in place, as if you are not married, your partner may not receive anything. Make sure it is drafted with all the correct details and is updated when any changes in your life happen that may affect it, for example, the birth of children and purchasing new property.

Prepare a Cohabitation Agreement

A cohabitation agreement is a legally binding document that covers each partners obligations towards one another in relation to property, contents of that property, financial provision, personal belongings, savings and other assets, should things go wrong. This may be used to supplement a Declaration of Trust to show how any jointly owned home is to be shared and what should happen to each partner’s share upon the death of either one of them whether passing under the terms of a will or by survivorship to the surviving partner.

A Cohabitation Agreement may also assist cohabitees in relation to the day to day financial running of their home, for example, stating what financial contribution each party makes with regard to mortgage repayments as well as utility bills, maintenance and improvements to the property and whether those contributions will affect each partner’s share in the property.

Having these legal documents in place may ultimately save you lots of lengthy and complex paperwork and time, not to mention financial savings, should a relationship break down.

If you would like us to advise you further on drafting a Will, Cohabitation Agreements or Declarations of Trust please email (Wills) or (Cohabitation agreements) or call 01202 755980.

Jonathan Talbot

Partner — Family

Direct dial: 01202 755990


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  • “I always use Laceys for my legal work, I feel able to talk to them and I know they listen. They have always been professional and kind.”

    Dawn Aston

  • “Very happy with how you dealt with my case. Many thanks for your help and advice from Mr Talbot and his secretary.”

    Jan Saad

  • “Jonathan Talbot explained the process and how things would proceed. He was very patient allowing us time to understand and adapt to our new situation. Legal language can be quite difficult to understand and he would explain what it meant and how it would impact.”

    Rae Frederick

Jonathan heads up Laceys family department with over 30 years experience in Family Law.

He specialises in Family and Relationship Breakdowns, Financial Remedies, Collaborative Law and International Family Law.

Jonathan has a exceptional caring nature and will always strive to find solutions to family issues outside of the court if at all possible.

Outside of work Jonathan likes to keep himself busy by competing in Ironman 70.3’s when he gets the chance – which are no easy feat at having to complete a 1.2 mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride, and then a 13.1 mile run each race!

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