Cohabitation – pre-nuptial agreements
Despite the common belief that persons living together are part of a common law marriage and regarded as a common law ‘husband and wife’, this term does not exist in law. The rights of parties living together as opposed to the rights of those married, differs considerably. This is particularly so, concerning property and financial matters. If you are considering living together, it is wise, to seek appropriate legal advice about your financial circumstances before you go ahead and purchase property.
Pre-nuptial agreements are presently unenforceable in English law. The court have made a number of findings in recent cases stating that where agreements have been drafted in circumstances where both parties have had the benefit of independent legal advice, then they may have a significant effect in determining a settlement in subsequent divorce or separation proceedings. Whilst pre-marital contracts/agreements may seem unattractive and unromantic, they are a useful way of protecting yourself in the event of an unfortunate breakdown of marriage by setting out agreements particularly concerning financial matters well ahead of that breakup, when emotions are usually more highly charged.