More and more people are choosing to live with their partners rather than marry. The legal word for living with your partner is “cohabitation”.
There is no such thing as a ‘common-law marriage’. As a cohabiting partner, you do not have the same rights as a married couple.
Below is a bullet point summary of your rights:
- You have no automatic rights to your partner’s property on their death
- You have no automatic entitlement to inherit your partner’s estate (even if you have children together)
- There are no tax reliefs and exemptions that married couples enjoy, including pensions
In order to protect your rights, it is essential that you have a Cohabitation Agreement in place which will pre-determine how your assets are to be divided in case of a relationship breakdown. The Cohabitation Agreement can also specify how much each partner pays towards the rent, mortgage, utilities and child maintenance, both during the relationship, and if the relationship comes to an end
It is also essential that you have an up to date Will to ensure that your assets pass to your partner and/or your intended beneficiaries.
There are some legal reliefs available to cohabitting partners but they are restricted:
- The Children Act 1989 provides financial provision for children of cohabiting partners under the age of 18.
- Under the doctrine of survivorship, you are entitled to your share of a jointly owned property. However, if your partner is reluctant to sell the property, you may be obliged to obtain a court order to sell it under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996.
- If one partner has contributed significant amounts towards the mortgage or renovations, it may be possible to make a claim.
- On the death of one partner, if the other partner was financially dependent on the deceased partner, it may be possible to make a claim under the Provision for Family and Dependants Act 1975.
What to do to protect your interest?
There are two things you can do to protect your interest and improve your legal position.
Have a Cohabitation Agreement.
Make a Will and it sures you update it when your circumstances change.
For more information or if you require assistance with the drawing up a Cohabitation Agreement or Will, please do not hesitate to contact us.