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Recent statistics have shown that the number of couples choosing to cohabit rather than marry is on the increase growing by 25% in the last 10 years. There are now reported to be some 3.4million cohabiting families in the UK.

Many cohabiting couples believe that they are protected because their relationship will be deemed to be a ‘common law marriage.’ This is not the case! Cohabiting couples do not have the same rights as married couples or couples in a civil partnership. If couples are not aware of their rights whilst in a cohabiting relationship, one or the other could find themselves at a significant disadvantage and potentially in a position of financial hardship should the relationship break down.

What can unmarried couples do to protect their position?

There are however options available to cohabiting couples, which if applied, could enable the parties to preserve their wealth and protect them from the risk of financial disagreements and/or contentious court proceedings.

Cohabitation agreement

A cohabitation agreement can be put in place to clearly set out the couple’s intentions in relation to day to day finances, ownership of assets and responsibility for liabilities. This can then be relied on by the couple should they ever separate.

Declaration of Trust

A Declaration of Trust can be used alongside a cohabitation agreement to accurately record the couple’s beneficial interest in the family home or any other property they may own; this is particularly useful for cohabiting couples who have made unequal contributions towards the purchase of a property and want to protect their initial investment.

What to do next?

If you are in a cohabiting relationship, or thinking about entering into one, our specialist family solicitors can assist you in preparing either a cohabitation agreement and/or a declaration of trust.

If you have recently separated and are not sure whether you have any safeguards in place, we can offer advice or assistance on how to divide family assets, including alternate dispute resolution and, where necessary representation in court proceedings.

To start a conversation about how we can help you to get the outcome you want

Call us on +44 (0)345 521 4545 or send an email.