If you are thinking of living with someone without being married to them, either as a romantic partner or simply as a friend, relative or other cohabitee, you should consider putting a cohabitation agreement or ‘no-nup’ in place.
Named after the equivalent pre-nuptial agreement or ‘pre-nup’ that couples can enter into before marriage, no-nuptial agreements or no-nups can protect the legal position of those who will be living together.
Why enter into a no-nup or cohabitation agreement?
If you live with someone in a shared house, you may assume that after a period of time you will have some rights to stay in the property or to have a share of the proceeds when it is sold, particularly if you have contributed to the mortgage or maintenance. In fact, if you are not a legal owner and you are not married, you will not simply acquire these rights.
This extends to other issues such as maintenance or taking into account something that might put you in a financially weaker position than your co-habiting partner, such as giving up your career to care for any children you have together.
A no-nup can be drafted to deal fairly with financial and other issues between those who are living together. It can help to start cohabitation out on an open and honest footing, with any potential areas of disagreement discussed and settled in advance. In the long run, a no-nup can help avoid disputes and give you the reassurance of knowing what will happen, should you and your cohabiting partner go your separate ways.
What goes in a no-nup agreement?
The agreement can include whatever you want and will be tailored to suit your exact circumstances. Issues that are commonly put in a no-nup include:
- How any property will be shared, should you separate
- How other assets will be dealt with on separation, to include savings, investments and pensions
- What will happen should one of you wish to sell property that you own together
- How you will deal with the transaction if one of you wishes to buy out the other, to include how a valuation will be agreed upon
- Who will be responsible for paying the mortgage and other outgoings
- Who will be responsible for debts, to include pre-existing debt
- What arrangements you are putting in place in respect of your children
Who should get a no-nup?
A no-nup is particularly recommended in the following circumstances:
- Where one partner has more money than the other and will be contributing more towards the cost of a shared home
- Where one party has substantial debts
- If you intend to have children and you may leave your career to raise them
Is a no-nup legally binding?
Provided certain criteria are covered, a no-nup or cohabitation agreement is a legally binding contract. For this reason, it is always recommended that it be drawn up by an experienced solicitor. The requirements are as follows:
- Each party has made full disclosure to the other of their financial situation
- Each party has taken independent legal advice before signing the agreement
- The agreement has been signed as a deed in front of witnesses
If you would like to speak to one of our expert property about putting a no-nup or cohabitation agreement in place, ring us on 0345 241 3100 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org