A high percentage of couples are choosing to cohabit rather than enter into formal marriage or a civil partnerships. Furthermore, a rising proportion of these couples are also choosing to start their families outside marriage.
Unfortunately cohabiting couples are currently not given the same protection (under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973) as their married counterparts and they are only offered a limited number of ways in which they can protect themselves and their families on separation. Although the Government is aware of the problems which effect such a high number of people, they are still debating the contents and are reluctant to pass the Cohabitation Bill introduced into Parliament in 2008. If the legislation is passed the disparity of protection between married couples and cohabitees will narrow considerably.
However, in the meantime, couples considering setting up home together are strongly encouraged to consider making a Cohabitation Agreement and/or Property Declaration of Trust. A Cohabitation Agreement sets out the couple's intentions during their relationship, as well as establishing their rights should the relationship break down. Additionally, the Declaration of Trust determines how the couple intends to hold the property from the outset, clearly defining the way in which the property should be divided should the relationship break down.
Should you require further advise in relation to Cohabitation Agreements or Declarations of Trust please call our family solicitor Neil McNab on 01245 228106 for a free initial consultation.