Many people do not realise that unmarried couples who live together are not protected by law in the same way that married couples or civil partners are.
There is a common misunderstanding that there is such a thing as ‘common law marriage’, which people think gives them some protection. This is not the case and no such law exists.
Because of this, rights on separation are very limited and if you want to make sure you are both protected and that you each understand what your rights are in relation to property and individual assets, it is sensible to have a living together agreement, or co-habitation agreement, drawn up.
Things to consider including in the agreement are:
Ownership of the property
If the property is in your partners name then you would usually have no right to an interest in it unless you can show that you have contributed in some way or that there was an expressed intention that it should be your joint property. If the property is in your partners name you would often have no right to remain there if your partner asks you to leave.
You would have no right to inherit the property if your partner died, unless this had been provided for in their will. If you jointly own the property you need to record in writing what basis this is on, equal shares for example.
If you are renting property you should agree that the tenancy is held in both names.
If you intend to have children you may wish to agree in advance whose surname they should have and deal with any other matters relating to children to avoid future misunderstandings.
Bank accounts and other assets
If you have separate bank accounts and assets in individual names, then upon separation or death, neither of you has any right to them, unless provided for in an agreement or a Will.
There is no automatic entitlement to your partner’s pension. In the event of your partner’s death you will only be entitled to any benefits if the scheme provides for this and you have been nominated by your partner to receive benefits.
How we can help
If you would like more information about living together agreements, or just want a confidential chat about your options, contact our friendly, supportive team today.