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Cohabitation is on the rise but are you protected?

The Office for National Statistics in its families and household statistical bulletin has shown that the fastest growing family type are those in a cohabiting relationship.  The bulletin also explains that unmarried parties in a cohabiting relationship is the second largest family type behind married or civil partnership couples.

The law in relation to the breakdown of a cohabiting relationship is very different to that of a marriage or civil partnership breakdown.  There is a misconception that should you live together as a couple for a certain period of time, you will acquire an interest in your partner’s assets.  That is not true.  It is important that should you enter into a cohabiting relationship and wish to live together, that you take legal advice and enter into a cohabitation agreement which will assist in the protection of assets should the relationship breakdown.

Sadly, cohabiting couples do separate.  The basic position is that any assets held in your sole name will be yours to keep, including capital, pensions and income.  If there are joint assets, then these are usually divided in accordance with how they are beneficially owned.  If you have made contributions to your partner’s assets, then you may be entitled to a share of them.

It is always sensible to take legal advice should your relationship breakdown, so that you know what your rights are at an early stage.

Anthony Jones is Head of Family Law and is a Resolution Accredited Specialist. For more information or a second opinion, please contact him on 0161 641 4555 or email [email protected]