Many couples live together without formalising their relationship by getting married or entering into a Civil Partnership. Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a “common law marriage” and in England and Wales the law offers limited legal rights and benefits to cohabitees, even if you have lived together for several years. 

Cohabitation Agreements

Often, the most effective way to minimise any dispute that may arise is to enter into a Cohabitation agreement at the start of the relationship. This is similar to a pre-nuptial agreement and sets out your intentions in the event of separation. If you intend to purchase a property together, it is also important to consider entering into a trust deed to specify and safeguard your and your partner’s interests. 

Financial Considerations

Even if you are living together, you are not considered to be your partner’s “next of kin”, so we recommend that you make Wills and consider creating a Lasting Power of Attorney

Some pension providers do not automatically pay a survivor’s pension to the partner they live with in the event of death. Different rules apply to different pensions, so we recommend you check the terms of your pension policy.

Tax benefits available to married couples, for example in relation to Capital Gains Tax and Inheritance Tax, do not apply cohabitees. We work closely with specialist tax advisers who can advise you if you are considering gifting assets to your partner.  

Relationship Breakdown

One of the most difficult issues that can arise when a relationship between cohabitees ends is in relation to any property owned in joint or sole names. It is vital to seek specialist legal advice at an early stage to establish the position and any steps that may need to be taken. If you have children, it is also important to consider what financial provision can be made for them as well as the parenting arrangements