More couples are living together than ever before. It is estimated that there are nearly three million cohabiting households in Britain. Unfortunately, the law for cohabitees is outdated and on some occasions unfair. The law desperately needs changing and the Co-habitation Rights Bill introduced by Lord Marks, has recently had its second reading in the House of Lords. It was felt by many that the bill does not go far enough. The bill is an important first step towards updating the law but more needs to be done to protect cohabitees who are currently left in a very weak position.
It is essential that cohabitees seek legal advice not only when a relationship comes to an end but more importantly at critical stages of their relationship, such as the purchase of a property. Consideration needs to be given as to how the property is purchased and what will occur in the event of the death of one of the parties. In this situation, cohabitation agreements offer benefits for each party by clearly setting out the living arrangements. It is important that such a document is also backed up with a Declaration of Trust which will state how the property is to be owned by the parties. Preparation of these documents could save thousands of pounds upon separation, as they set out the intention of the parties involved and can aid in settling any disputes upon separation or death of one of the parties.
If you would like any advice in relation to co-habitation or any other family law matters, please contact our Family team on 0161 475 7676.