A new study has revealed that cohabiting couples are the the fastest growing family type in the UK with over 150,000 cohabitating relationships in Scotland alone.

The study found that there were over 3 million cohabiting families in the UK with the Office of National Statistics reporting that cohabiting families grew by 29.7% between 2004 and 2014. The report found that there were three million opposite sex cohabiting couple families and 84,000 same sex cohabiting couple families in the UK in 2014 accounting for 16.4% of all families in the UK in total.

Despite the increasing popularity in cohabiting, many people still believe that they are entitled to the same rights as a married couple if they have been living together for a certain amount of time. However, this is not the case. One of the best ways to ensure that you are legally protected when cohabiting is by establishing a cohabitation agreement.

Do I Need A Cohabitation Agreement?

Couples who cohabit do not have the same rights as those who marry, however, according to a recent study when asked 59% of couples believed they had the same rights as those that have a “common law marriage”.

Although the number of people cohabiting has risen so too has the number of legal battles and disputes over property when the relationship breaks down, and it is when the relationship breaks down that a cohabitation agreement can be so useful. While some believe that having such an agreement is not romantic and condemns the relationship, a cohabitation agreement can solve a number of battles if the relationship does end. While the may seem unthinkable when you first move in, such agreements can be exceptionally useful and save a significant amount of cost and time.

Cohabitation agreements can protect both parties and ensure that one member of the relationship is not risking their assets. Assets brought to the arrangement can be protected as well as divided if needed. This saves infighting at the end of the relationship by having all of the complex terms agreed.  Clarification of property ownership can also be arranged in a cohabitation agreement as well as how assets would be divided if the relationship did break down.

Cohabitation Agreement Scotland

Cohabitees have been given some legal protection in Scotland with the law recognising such a living arrangement, however, there are still some issues that can arise when cohabiting

Any household goods acquired during the cohabitation will be presumed to be equally owned, although this does not include any gifts or inheritance to one party only. If a property is bought by both members the court will also presume that this is equally owned. However, this does not include a family home which will be passed on to the family member. While these protections are in place, the rulings can be overturned if challenged in court, thus a cohabitation agreement is the best way to protect assets.

If your partner dies then you may be able to make a claim for a substantial amount of the assets, however, this is not guarenteed to be successful. A cohabiting partner can only make a claim if the deceased partner has not made a will. Unlike common marriage law, there is no automatic overriding entitlement to the cohabitee over other family members. Thus it is important that as well as establishing a cohabitation agreement you update your will as needed.

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