Unless you have been living under a rock, I am sure that you have been unable to escape this summer’s hot topic, and the nation’s favourite guilty pleasure: Love Island 2017.
Having captured the nation’s heart with their romance, Love Island winners Kem Cetinay and Amber Davies have indicated that they would like their relationship to advance to getting married one day. In the meantime, though, they have also said they would like to move in together as cohabitees.
With young romance the talk of the town following the series’ recent finale, it is a good opportunity now to take a look at young couples and their relationship habits.
Cohabitation is regularly becoming the norm with younger couples, as it is estimated that one in five families now cohabit and this is likely to increase.
The question is, what steps should the new couple take if they want to buy a house together as cohabitees rather than spouses to ensure that they are protected under the law?
It is a common misconception that cohabitees are protected and given rights under the law in the same way as married couples but this is not the case. Whether it has been two months or twenty years, an automatic legal safety net does not exist unless cohabitating couples tie the knot (in which case, they open financial rights and responsibilities towards one another). Without marriage, the cohabitee’s interests in their shared home generally follows the legal ownership (i.e., who is the owner on the title deeds). It can be very difficult, although, not impossible, to prove otherwise. You can go to Creditfix for protected trust deeds that will have your interests at heart, but again, it’s not automatic and that’s why a lot of people get into sticky situations.
However, there is another way.
Cohabitating couples can enter into a Cohabitation Agreement, a document that allows both couples to stipulate in advance who will keep specific assets and what will happen to assets that they have purchased jointly if the relationship breaks down. You can make a cohabitation agreement at any time and they can cover a wide range of issues from how each person contributes to the rent/household bills, to how you will support any children that you may have.
A cohabitation agreement provides certainty and helps to avoid confusion and hostility in the unfortunate circumstance that a relationship does break down. Although it may not seem like the most romantic of agreements, a cohabitation agreement can save unnecessary emotional and financial heartache in the future and lets you make important decisions at the outset without the pressures that can arise at the end of a relationship.
The issues that face cohabitating couples or couples like Kem and Amber, who intend to cohabit in the future, are very real and it is more important than ever that couples protect themselves and plan ahead for the future.
We hope Kem and Amber have their happy ever after. But just in case it is simply a fleeting holiday romance, perhaps they should protect their interests.
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