Machins Solicitors LLP
Leading Solicitors in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire & Buckinghamshire
  • Luton: 01582 514000
  • Berkhamsted: 01442 872311
  • Hemel Hempstead: 01442 345047
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Cohabitation Breakdown

At Machins we are able to advise former cohabitants as to their respective entitlements on the breakdown of their relationship.

For two people planning to live together we are able to advise and assist in drawing up a Cohabitation Agreement which will set out the agreement reached between you and your partner regarding your finances and joint assets if you subsequently separate.

Cohabitants must be aware of current UK laws and legal rulings regarding cohabitation and cohabitant disputes. Couples involved in a cohabitation relationship do not currently have the same legal rights as those who are married or in a civil partnership. The legal principles which apply when cohabitation breaks down are mainly found in trust and property law.

Co-ownership

Cohabitant’s ought to be legal advised when purchasing a home, entering into mortgage agreements and other joint finances which might affect cohabitants in the event of a dispute. Co-buyers of a property will need to understand the difference between a Joint Tenancy and a Tenancy in Common. In a joint tenancy, both parties will hold the property equally and there will be no distinct shares of ownership. Upon the death of a party, the survivor will become the sole owner of the party. This means that you cannot leave your share in the property under a will. Owning a property as tenants in common means that you each hold a distinct share in the property and can leave your share under a will or the intestacy rules will apply. It is strongly recommended that if you own the property in unequal shares or have contributed unequally to the purchase prove that this is recorded in the Trust Deed which will clearly identify their beneficial interest in the property.

Our family law team can help you make the appropriate declarations at the time of purchase and to ensure clarity for both parties in the event of disputes.

Occupation

If a non-legal owner does not have any beneficial interest in the property he or she will have no right to remain there and may be excluded by the owner at any time on giving reasonable notice. Having said that, there are several ways to protect occupation rights for non legal owners.

Many of the problems faced by couples at the end of a cohabitation relationship can be addressed during the relationship by the use of a deed of trust or cohabitation agreement. 

Cohabitation or Living Together Agreements

If you and your partner are planning to live together Machins can help you and your partner draw up a cohabitation agreement.

A cohabitation agreement will apply while you are living together and will establish rights on the breakdown of a relationship. It will set out agreements about your finances if you subsequently separate.

This is still a relatively new area of law and there is no decision on the validity of such agreements. However, the courts have indicated that there is nothing contrary to public policy in a cohabitation agreement and more couples are now seeking such agreements.

To ensure that the agreement has the best chance of being upheld by a court, it is advisable that each party obtains independent legal advise and provide full financial disclosure. 

Primary Team Member

Kathryn Ainsworth
Partner - Head of Family Law

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