InsightsInsight - Family and Divorce - POSTED: September 18 2020
COVID-19: reduction in weddings means cohabiting couples need to protect assets
We explain how cohabiting couples can put financial protection in place.
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It is estimated that about 73,600 weddings and civil partnership ceremonies have been affected by new rules introduced since lockdown began on 23 March.
While the easing of restrictions has meant that wedding ceremonies are now allowed with up to 30 guests, many couples have chosen to postpone their celebrations. This has ultimately led to more couples continuing to live together as cohabitees without any financial protection in place.
Unfortunately, cohabiting couples do not automatically gain the same rights as married couples or civil partners, regardless of the length of their relationship. This means they can face difficulties if they end their relationship. For example, unless a cohabiting couple’s property is held in their joint names, the non-owning partner does not have a guaranteed right to a share of the other’s property.
The legal rights of cohabitees on death also differ to those of married couples or those who are in a civil partnership. If one partner dies without leaving a valid Will, the surviving partner will not automatically inherit any of the other’s estate.
It’s important that cohabiting couples protect themselves and their assets by entering into a cohabitation agreement. This document will set out a couple’s intentions should they separate in the future, ensuring the couple’s shares in assets are legally protected.
Cohabitation agreements are enforceable and legally binding, provided they are entered into freely by both parties, with full disclosure of financial information, and provided both partners have received separate legal advice on the terms of the agreement.
Entering into a cohabitation agreement helps provide couples with clarity on their financial position and reduces or eliminates areas of dispute on separation, saving time and money in what may otherwise be a lengthy court dispute.
While a cohabitation agreement may not seem very romantic, they are a necessary tool to protect a couple and their family in the future, when drafted with the assistance of an experienced solicitor.
Our Family team can help create legal certainty for you and your family. You can book a one-hour initial appointment at a fixed fee of £150 plus VAT.
Couples delaying their marriage because of the pandemic should also consider entering into a pre-nuptial agreement.
These agreements are used for couples who want to clarify what they would like to happen to their assets and finances in the event of divorce and are helpful to safeguard assets which are inherited or acquired before marriage, when prepared with the assistance of an experienced solicitor and when certain criteria are met.
If you would like to discuss the possibility of entering into a nuptial agreement, please make an appointment with Rhia Davis from our Family team, who would be happy to assist. We are offering a one-hour initial appointment for a fixed fee of £260 plus VAT to discuss whether a pre-nuptial agreement is right for you.
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