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Contracts & Co-Habitation

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 10 Aug 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
Contract Co-habitation Agreements

With almost four million people in the UK co-habiting it is important that some form of contract be set in place to protect the rights of those involved. Whether they are called Living Together Agreements or Co-habitation Contracts, documents that set out in writing the terms and conditions of any co-habitation are a wise move.

Contracts and Co-habitation

Many couples are well aware that common law marriage rights are a myth, although many more are not aware of this fact and have no idea of their non-existent rights. Contracts and co-habitation may not seem like the ideal starting point for two people who are intending to live together but there are sound advantages to having the terms and conditions of any co-habitation set down in writing.

At the moment the law does not legally recognise contracts that are drawn up by co-habiting partners. However, if any dispute does occur with regards to the property the co-habitation contract can be used as a point of reference by a judge. If the terms and conditions of the contract are clearly defined and have been agreed by both partners then the contract may have some bearing in a legal situation.

The Need for Co-Habitation Contracts

Many people live together without giving the necessary thought to financial details. In a perfect world, a romantic relationship would last forever, and the law has no business being involved in it. However, in the real world, finances are part and parcel of any co-habiting couple and if the end comes it is sometimes a case of every man for themselves, and that includes the financial side. Co-habitation contracts may be able to prevent one person walking away with everything while the other is left absolutely nothing.

A co-habitation contract should be drawn up regardless of whether a couple are romantically involved or simply sharing a dwelling. If one person has signed a lease or their name is on a mortgage deed, the co-habiting person may have fewer rights even if they have been contributing financially. Co-habitation contracts should clearly define the exact nature of the co-habitation and this includes the financial aspects of the relationship.

Drafting a Co-habitation Contract

In most cases, advice from a solicitor or legal expert is necessary when it comes to contracts and co-habitation, and it may be a necessity that a solicitor will be needed for each individual. Before obtaining legal advice much consideration will be needed between the individuals as to what exactly will be set into the contract. There should be a discussion over what the contract should cover, and both parties should be in total agreement over the terms and conditions of the contract.

Terms and Conditions

The terms and conditions of a co-habitation contract are up to the individuals involved. There are some guidelines as to what terms should be set into the contract, and these should include:

  • The names, addresses, and ages of the individuals involved.
  • The purpose and intention of the contract.
  • Financial details of the individuals and whether income will be seen as joint or individual.
  • Property rights during co-habitation and the division of the property if co-habitation ends.
  • The length of the contract and review periods for the contract.
  • Provisions and intentions for any children or the occurrence of children.
These terms are by no means definitive. The full terms and conditions of the contract will depend on the nature of the co-habiting individuals. Clauses can be placed in the contract in case of the death of a co-habiting person, and whether or not the contract is intended to be legally binding.

Reviewing a Co-habitation Contract

Where relationships such as co-habitation are concerned there are no real set in stone terms and conditions for life’s changing events. Contracts should have review periods set in place in consideration of the different changes that can take place within a relationship. A five year gap is usually an ideal time to review a contract and decide whether any changes are needed.

At the moment the law is undergoing a review regarding co-habitation rights. But it is taking time for a decision to be made on the rights of those who are co-habiting as opposed to those who are actually married. Contracts and co-habitation may not have the same ring to it as love and marriage, but people who are co-habiting do need to protect their rights, and a contract may be one step closer to ensuring that protection does exist.

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Hollywood - Your Question:
Question, my ex-fiancé moved in to my home after selling her home. She lived with me for 28 months, prior to that, we were together a year and a half. When she decided to move in, we were going to split expenses 50/50. On her own free will, she said she would like to pay down on the mortgage with no written contract. I assumed all the bills/mortgage. Now that we are no longer together, she wants ALL the money she put down on the house back. How does one expect to live free for 28 months, and what are my rights, as she has threatened to take me to court?

Our Response:
In the case of an unmarried co-habiting couple it is very different to the contract of marriage and the home will remain the property of the person who purchased it (i.e, you). However, you don't say if there are any dependent children are involved which may change the matter. If you don't have children, I can't see that she would have any recourse, as presumably you both paid an even share of the monthly outgoings. Please see the CAB link 'living together and marriage: legal differences', link here. I hope this helps.
ContractsAndAgreements - 12-Aug-15 @ 12:05 PM
Question, my ex-fiancé moved in to my home after selling her home. She lived with me for 28 months, prior to that, we were together a year and a half. When she decided to move in, we were going to split expenses 50/50. On her own free will, she said she would like to pay down on the mortgage with no written contract. I assumed all the bills/mortgage. Now that we are no longer together, she wants ALL the money she put down on the house back. How does one expect to live free for 28 months, and what are my rights, as she has threatened to take me to court?
Hollywood - 10-Aug-15 @ 3:06 AM
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