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Read more articles in: Blog, Family, Family Law, Stuart Daniel

The importance of regularly reviewing your cohabitation agreement

In recent years, the number of unmarried couples cohabiting in the UK has increased significantly.

In fact, the proportion of couples cohabiting in England and Wales has increased from 20.6 per cent in 2011 to 24.3 per cent in 2021.

This shift reflects a broader societal change, as more individuals are choosing to live with their partners before, or even instead of, getting married.

For this reason, it is crucial to consider obtaining a cohabitation agreement. This can help protect both parties from potential disputes and financial stress down the line.

A regular review of cohabitation agreements is also essential, as life progresses and so do our circumstances. It is important the agreement remains relevant and fair to both parties.

Why should you have a cohabitation agreement?

Without a cohabitation agreement, you may not be legally protected in the event of a relationship breakdown or the death of your partner.

A cohabitation agreement can bring peace of mind to your relationship. By reaching an agreement before or during your shared living arrangement, you will:

  • Prevent misunderstandings about your rights and responsibilities as cohabitants, especially regarding property ownership
  • Avoid challenges and disputes in the event of a breakup
  • Have clear documentation of your intentions should you need them in legal proceedings
  • Gain a thorough understanding of your financial obligations

Seek legal advice

When drawing up a cohabitation agreement, it is strongly recommended to seek legal advice.

Both parties are required to seek independent legal advice as to the terms and implications of the agreement. This will ensure the document is legally binding and there is no doubt as to what is being agreed to.

Updating your cohabitation agreement

The progression of a relationship often necessitates change, growth and mutual understanding.

As with any legal document, a cohabitation agreement should be reviewed regularly and updated as necessary.

You should consider updating the agreement regularly. Here is why:

  • Changes in financial circumstances – Over time, financial circumstances can change dramatically. You or your partner may experience job changes, salary increases, inheritances or other significant fluctuations in personal wealth. These changes should be reflected in your cohabitation agreement to ensure fair distribution of assets and responsibilities.
  • Changes in property ownership – If you or your partner buy or sell property while you are living together, it is crucial to update your agreement. This ensures that in the event of a breakup, there is a clear understanding of who owns what and how assets will be divided.
  • The arrival of children – If you or your partner decide to have or adopt children, your cohabitation agreement should reflect this significant change. It should detail issues such as custody rights, financial responsibilities and any agreed-upon parenting roles. It is crucial to consider the best interests of the children during the drafting process.

Updating your cohabitation agreement isn’t about anticipating the end of a relationship but rather about ensuring that you both feel secure and protected within it.

It is about open communication, fairness and mutual respect. So, whether it has been a year or a decade, consider reviewing your agreement and making any necessary updates.

If you would like more advice on cohabitation agreements, get in touch with our expert team today.

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