What is cohabitation?

Two people are said to be cohabiting when they live together but are not married. They are often in a romantic relationship on a long-term or permanent basis. Cohabitation has become increasingly common in the 21st century due to adjustments in social views.

What rights do cohabitants have?

Unfortunately, despite advancement in the social stance surrounding cohabitation, cohabiting couples have minimal rights surrounding their property, finances or any children they may share.

To ensure cohabitants receive all they are entitled to, if the worst should happen, a cohabitation agreement should be written outlining the precise wishes of each partner to ensure that any property or finances are distributed according to their wishes.

Similarly, cohabitants need to include their exact requirements in a Will to ensure that their executor knows exactly what they wish to leave to their cohabitant.

Learn more about making a Will by clicking here.

What is the difference between marriage and cohabitation?

Unlike cohabitation, marriage automatically introduces a variety of legal rights. Below are some of these rights:

Joint bank accounts:

Married couples with shared bank accounts automatically own the money jointly for as long as they are married. It does not matter who put the money into the account initially.

Death of a spouse:

If one spouse dies without leaving a Will, the other will inherit all or some of the estate, depending on its worth.

Ending the relationship:

Informal separation of a couple would mean that they would remain legally married even if they stopped living together. To formally end the relationship, the couple would need to go to Court to get divorced. Upon a divorce, the Court would have wide powers to distribute the assets of both parties according to their present and future needs and the likelihood of their receiving an inheritance.

Unless set out in a cohabitation agreement or Will, none of these rights applies to a cohabiting couple.

Family Law Solicitors in Blackheath

Beverley Morris & Co. are experienced, competent family law solicitors in Blackheath Village, South East London. If you wish to write a cohabitation agreement, prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement or if you are considering embarking on the divorce process, contact us today on +44 (0)20 8852 4433, email us at enquiries@beverleymorris.co.uk or make an online enquiry, and we will call you.