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Cohabitation Solicitors

It is becoming increasingly common for couples to live together before deciding whether to marry or enter into a civil partnership. However, cohabiting couples have few legal rights compared to their married counterparts. If you are thinking about moving in with your partner, consult our expert cohabitation solicitors for advice about how to protect your interests.

At Whiskers Solicitors, we provide practical family law advice to individuals and families across Harlow and Epping in Essex and Bishop’s Stortford in Hertfordshire.

Although it is widely thought that couples who live together for a long time acquire the same legal rights as married couples, there is actually no such thing as “common law marriage”. Couples who are not married or in a civil partnership do not have any automatic rights to their partner’s property or (unless they are the person who gives birth) towards their children.

Therefore, if you live together and are unmarried, it is extremely important for you and your partner to think about what might happen if your relationship breaks down in the future or one of you passes away.

One way you can protect yourself is to enter into a Cohabitation Agreement with your partner which sets out terms about things like your agreed financial rights and responsibilities and arrangements for children in the event the relationship ends.

For further information or to set up an initial appointment with one of our cohabitation solicitors, please get in touch with:

How our cohabitation solicitors can help you

We understand that discussing your potential break up or death with your partner can be distressing and you may be worried about raising conflict instead of avoiding it. However, hashing out these issues now while you are both prepared to cooperate and compromise can save you a lot of disagreements down the line.

We can help you discuss the terms of your cohabitation openly and constructively. With our assistance, you and your partner will have the tools you need to safeguard your present to ensure a secure future.

We can also provide expert advice and representation upon cohabitee relationship breakdown, including your legal rights and any action you can take to protect your financial interests and sort out arrangements for children.

Our expertise includes:

What rights do cohabiting couples have?

Cohabiting couples do not have the same automatic legal rights as married couples. For example:

  • If you break up, you have no right to come to a fair agreement about the division of your assets. In the eyes of the law, what is yours is yours, and what is theirs is theirs, regardless of whether this leaves you in financial difficulty.
  • If you have children, only the birth mother automatically gets parental responsibility (duties and rights to make decisions about how to raise your children). If you want to get the right to be included in your children’s upbringing after relationship breakdown, you need to acquire parental responsibility.
  • If you die without making a Will, your partner is not allowed to inherit. Nor are they allowed to deal with your estate.
  • You do not have automatic access to your partner’s pensions or life insurance policies unless you are specifically named as a beneficiary.

Why do I need a Cohabitation Agreement?

A Cohabitation Agreement can save you considerable time and stress in the future. It will set out exactly how you want to arrange your finances and raise your children going forward.

By sorting these issues out early on, you have a better chance of achieving an amicable separation if you decide to break up in the future. It can also give you peace of mind that your interests will be well looked after and your future secured, particularly if you are financially “weaker” than your partner.

Are Cohabitation Agreements legally binding?

Cohabitation Agreements are not technically legally binding. However, so long as you and your partner both had independent legal advice and freely entered into the agreement, the court is likely to take it into account.

What should a Cohabitation Agreement include?

A strong Cohabitation Agreement will cover matters such as:

  • How the mortgage or rent will be paid
  • How bills and debts will be paid
  • How bank accounts and savings are managed
  • Who owns what and in what proportions
  • What happens to jointly owned property such as cars
  • What will happen to your pets
  • Arrangements for children
  • Child Maintenance

Why choose our cohabitation solicitors?

We are a firm of welcoming, forward-thinking solicitors who help individuals across Harlow and Epping, Essex and Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire plan for the future. Here are just some of the reasons our clients choose to instruct us:

  • Bespoke family law advice – your individual and family circumstances are unique so we tailor our advice and Cohabitation Agreements to specifically suit your needs. The stronger your initial Agreement, the easier it will be to resolve disputes if they arise in the future, saving you time, costs and unnecessary stress.
  • Professional expertise – we are recognised family law experts and members of the Law Society Family Law and Children Law Accreditation schemes. Amongst our talented team, Reza Sabzevari and Shalini Subherwal are accredited family law specialists and Reza is an accredited children’s representative. This means we are best placed to represent your interests and those of your children during any cohabitation negotiations or disputes.
  • Dedication to harmonious family law solutions – we are also members of Resolution, an organisation of legal professionals who promote methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) over contentious family court proceedings wherever possible. If it suits your case, we can help you access a range of ADR solutions, including family mediation.
  • Open, inclusive environment – we aim to make our family law services accessible to all, regardless of personal circumstances. So, if you have any disabilities or individual accessibility needs, please do not hesitate to get in touch for a confidential conversation with a member of our team.

Get in touch with our cohabitation solicitors in Harlow, Epping and Bishop’s Stortford

For further information or to set up an initial appointment with one of our cohabitation solicitors, please get in touch with: