Cohabitation (living together) is an alternative or prerequisite to marriage. Couples with children or shared assets such as bank accounts and property often decide to live together. Cohabitation before marriage is more and more common. In this guide, we’ll cover cohabitation and what happens when cohabitation breaks down (dissolution).
What is a Cohabitation Agreement?
Cohabitation is one of the fastest growing relationship types in the UK. A cohabitation agreement is very much like a prenuptial agreement, without the nuptials. This agreement will allow a couple who live together to set out their intentions before they start living together, as to their division of assets should the relationship break down and they chose to separate.
Here at KMJ Solicitors, we specialise in all areas of family law, including cohabitation. We are able to prepare agreements both before and after cohabitation.
Unfortunately, relationships don’t always work out, and the fallout can be difficult. In cases of cohabitation where an agreement has been entered into the end of the relationship will also require a dissolution of the cohabitation by sorting out financial matters and arrangements for any children. Financial matters are treated in a more “clinical” fashion by the Courts on the breakdown of cohabitation as opposed to divorce. The Court’s primary analysis are of the parties intentions at the time of purchase of any property and contributions since. This approach can be different in particular circumstances if there are children of the relationship.
Our team of London divorce solicitors and family law specialists will guide you through every step of a cohabitation breakdown in helping you resolve issues of both finances and children. As it’s such a new concept, we will also be able to inform you of any changes to the cohabitation law that you may not be aware of.
What is a Civil Partnership?
The laws on marriage, divorce and relationships have changed since 2005 when the Civil Partnership Act 2004 was put into place. This was followed in 2014 by Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013. The latter proved to be a huge moment in history.
Since 2005, the Civil Partnerships Act 2004 has allowed same-sex couples to enter a civil partnership. This will recognise them as a couple from a legal standpoint, as well as grant them many of the benefits that married couples enjoy. It’s worth noting that as a civil partnership has no religious connotation, ceremonies won’t be able to be held in a church. Another difference is that a civil partnership is official once a document has been signed, rather than from when the words are spoken.
KMJ Solicitors can provide same-sex couples considering cohabitation with advice on civil partnership agreements. We can prepare those agreements, dealing with financial matters such as asset division, pensions, company structures and offshore trusts.
Civil Partnership Dissolution
Civil partnerships can break down permanently, in the same way, marriages do. In this case, the couple will require a dissolution to end their civil partnership. Much like a divorce, couples in civil partnerships will need to meet certain criteria or ‘grounds’ to be granted a dissolution.
The basis for evidencing a breakdown in a civil partnership or same-sex marriage are pretty much the same as a divorce. They include:
- Unreasonable Behaviour. This could consist of physical and emotional abuse or cruelty, unreliability with money, neglecting a partner in favour of friends, family or work and being sexually unfaithful.
- Desertion. Your partner has left or ‘deserted’ you without an agreement or good reason, they have ended your relationship, or they have been gone for more than two years in the last two-and-a-half years.
- If you have lived apart for more than two years and both agree to end the civil partnership. In this case, your partner must agree (in writing) to end the civil partnership.
- It’s also usually enough to end a civil partnership if you have lived apart for more than five years, even if your civil partner disagrees.
Like any other legal agreement and situation that requires a court’s attention, seeking the legal help of a high-quality family lawyer should be your first step. In the case of dissolution, we will provide you with crucial information and advice for yourself and regarding your children if you have any.
Is your cohabitation, civil partnership, or same-sex marriage coming to an end? Now’s the time to hire a family lawyer with specialist knowledge and experience in family law and divorce. With KMJ Solicitors, that’s exactly what you get. Contact KMJ today for a FREE no-obligation consultation to find out what we can do for you.