Living with someone does not give you the same legal rights as being married or in a civil partnership. It is important that you understand your rights and entitlements before entering into such an arrangement.
What can I do to protect myself?
If you are considering living with someone but are not sure how you will share the rent or mortgage, deal with finances or property (including any family pets) then you may wish to consider entering into a cohabitation agreement. This is a legal contract in which couples set out the terms of their agreement before they live together. This way it is clear who owns what and what will happen in the event of a break-up. A typical cohabitation agreement will deal with any or all of the following issues:
- Who pays what towards the rent/mortgage
- How any savings or bank accounts are dealt with
- Who will take custody of any children
- What would happen to your pets
- How any other property would be divided up
Is a cohabitation agreement essential?
It is not essential to take out a cohabitation agreement but it is advisable. Cohabitation agreements eliminate the potential for disputes if you are to break up with your partner further down the line.
Many people now believe that the agreement is essential for non-married couples for example, in the event of a break-up you could be left in a difficult position of your name is not on the property lease/deeds. Many people believe that they have some sort of automatic rights and entitlements if they have lived in the property for a long time, but this is not always the case.