Resolution, the organisation for family lawyers, recently said that over a quarter of people in this country, quite wrongly, believe that if two people live together for a period of more than 2 years, then they have the same rights as married couples if they were to separate. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!
Not surprisingly, “cohabiting” couples are now the second largest type of family group. So, it is high time that some attention was given to raising awareness of the legal position, or rather lack of it, of such a couple. With this in mind, Resolution organised a Cohabitation Awareness Week last year, but this misconception continues.
The Key Facts:
- You will not be entitled to any of your partner’s estate should he or she die.
- You have no legal duty to support each other financially and you do not share ownership of your possessions, savings or investments.
- You may not have Parental Responsibility for your own children.
- You will not be entitled to state benefits like Bereavement Support payments or a state based pension based on your partner’s National Insurance contributions.
- Living together does NOT automatically give you the right to the home that you share, particularly when one of you moves into a property owned or rented by the other. Even if you jointly own a property, there can still be difficulties. For example, even if you contributed the lion’s share, you may still end up entitled to only a half share.
The above are merely a snapshot of what may need to be disentangled to set your mind at rest. I have always tried to offer help in these situations by working with the conveyancing department, who will alert, say, the unmarried purchasers of a property to contact us in Family so that we may assist in protecting them.
Please do give very serious thought to protecting yourselves; and don’t listen to those who are under the complete misapprehension that rights are acquired through living together for a number of months or years. It is true that this is a fault of our current law; but you can safeguard the situation by getting together with a solicitor and making a Cohabitation Agreement. This can reduce the possibility of disputes in the future and will help you to clarify the relationship issues that are most important to you.
You can set out even fine detail, such as how bills are to be shared, finances managed – even childcare. But, vitally, you make clear arrangements regarding home ownership and your rights, take what steps may be necessary to ensure that you have Parental Responsibility for your own children so that you have a right to have a say and be consulted regarding their education, religion and medical issues, make proper provision in the event that one of you dies as well as examining and, maybe, adjusting financial arrangements such as pension schemes, insurance and investments.
What protection do you need?
- A Cohabitation Agreement – Contact email@example.com
- A Declaration of Trust – Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- A Will – Contact email@example.com
Or call us on 01795 425411