When the first lockdown was announced some couples made the decision to move in together to avoid being separated.
A year on enquiries concerning unmarried couples’ legal rights and how best they can formalise their living arrangements have increased.
Married rights v unmarried rights
Unmarried couples living together do not have the same rights as married couples or those who have entered into a civil partnership. Their legal rights at the end of a relationship are limited. For example, their claim in property owned solely by their partner is difficult to establish, the financially weaker partner has no right to maintenance like married couples and pension assets cannot be shared.
In order to formalise your living arrangements and give yourself the protection you need it is advised that unmarried couples consider entering into various legal documents that can protect them upon a breakdown of a relationship to avoid litigation and the costs that it entails.
This is an agreement which can cover anything from who put how much money into a property to supporting children. Once everything has been agreed, the couple can approach a lawyer to get the agreement properly drawn up, signed, and witnessed.
Declaration of Trust
A declaration of trust is a document that confirms the proportions in which two or more individuals own a property, regardless of how the property was owned at the beginning of the relationship.
A Will is the only means by which you can protect your loved ones in the event of your death and ensure that your wishes are carried out. If you die without a Will the law describes you as dying Intestate. If you are cohabiting with a new partner, it is essential that you have a Will that reflects your circumstances. It is particularly important if you have children from your previous marriage/relationship and if unequal assets are brought to the relationship.
This article was written by Kiren Dhillon, Senior Associate in the Family Law Team. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of March 2021.