With Valentine’s Day still fresh on our minds, we are playing Cupid to help ease the worries of loved-up couples in Essex. Couples are no longer expected to be married in order to demonstrate their union. The Office for National Statistics in November 2015 displayed the cohabitating couple is the fastest growing family type in the UK, with 3.2 million households claiming this status.
However, some may expect that cohabitation imbues partners with the same rights and responsibilities as marriage. This is not the case, as the concept of common law marriage has no legal validity in this country. Generally speaking, cohabitating couples will have fewer rights regarding important household decisions or if the relationship breaks down.
Our solicitors in Essex have the expertise to draft cohabitation agreements that will formalise aspects of your arrangement. In order to quash any pressing concerns for unmarried couples, here are three subjects you should discuss to provide peace of mind in any situation.
When moving into a home together, it is important to consider the deed on the property. The simplest scenario is for both partners to be joint owners or joint tenants, as this affords them equal shares and rights to the home.
If only one partner is named as sole owner, the other may have no right to stay there should the relationship end. Instead, they will need to establish a ‘beneficial interest’ in the property, usually by showing payments made towards the running costs of the home. This can be formalised in a cohabitation agreement.
If one partner dies without leaving a will, the surviving partner will not automatically inherit anything, including property and possessions. It is therefore actively encouraged that cohabitating couples address their will to ensure each partner stands to inherit, and make change accordingly in the unlikely event the relationship breaks down.
Approximately a third of children in the UK are born to unmarried couples. However, the birth mother only has automatic legal rights, meaning an unmarried father or female partner has to apply for parental responsibility. This can be achieved by naming him or her on the birth certificate, entering a parental responsibility agreement, or being registered as the child’s guardian (which would only come into effect if the mother dies).
If you would like to discuss drafting a cohabitation agreement with our solicitors in Essex, call 01702 477106 to arrange a free, 30-minute consultation. You can also find us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.