Nash & Co - Family law specialists in Plymouth, Devon

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Cohabitation

Living together has never been so popular. Millions of couples prefer it to marriage or a civil partnership. But what are your cohabitation rights?

If your partner dies or the relationship breaks down, the financial and material consequences can be catastrophic if you have not put safeguards in place, such as a cohabitation agreement.

You could lose the roof over your head, for a start. Plus the contents of your home, even if you paid for them in the first place.

If you think that couldn’t happen to you because you’re a common-law husband or wife, you’d be in for a nasty surprise in the event of a split-up or bereavement.

Your rights when living together may not be as clear as you assume.  English law doesn’t accept that there’s any such thing as a common-law husband or wife. Instead, it treats you and your partner as two separate individuals with none of the rights that married couples take for granted.

Take your home, for instance. If it’s in your partner’s name because he or she owned it before you met, you might find that you have no right to any part of it, even if you’ve helped with mortgage payments and improvements over many years.

Cruel as it seems, you could be grieving for your partner one day and facing homelessness the next – simply because you were living together instead of being married or in a civil partnership.

You can try to convince a court that you deserve a proper share of the property, but that can be a challenge if you only had a verbal agreement that can’t be proven either way.

We can certainly help you with that, drawing on our years of legal experience – but if you’re living with somebody now, or are planning to, you might want to take precautions in the form of a Cohabitation Agreement.

Prevention is always easier than cure, so the agreement acts as a contract between you which specifies who owns what, which assets are jointly owned, and who gets what in the event of a death or separation.

You can give yourself further protection by making wills and taking advice on the best way to deal with any property you own between you. If you’re not sure of the legal distinction between being tenants in common or joint tenants, we’ll be happy to explain.

And if there are any children involved, the effects of a death or relationship breakdown can be life-changing and traumatic for them.

Unmarried fathers are often shocked to find they have no automatic rights of parental responsibility, even if they have acted as the child’s father for years, and contact arrangements are far from cut and dried.

Even if emotions weren’t involved, this is a complex and difficult area of law – but, fortunately, one in which we are highly experienced and ready to help you.

So if you want to safeguard your future or deal with the legal nightmare that can follow a death or a break-up, you’ll find us particularly understanding and sympathetic.

Just call us now on 01752664444 and we can start to make a difference.