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MacNairs + Wilson

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Do we or don’t we sign a Cohabitation Agreement?

Our family law department has seen a recent increase in the number of clients seeking advice about the preparation of Cohabitation Agreements.

For couples planning to marry, the subject of a pre-nuptial agreement has often been viewed as a taboo subject. Now, unmarried couples planning to live together are faced with a similar question – do we or don’t we sign a Cohabitation Agreement?

From 2006, couples who live together but are not married have been given the right to raise a financial claim against their partner at Court if their relationship comes to an end. They also have the right to make a claim against their partner’s estate if they have died. These rights were created by the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006. It has become clear over recent years that that there is no way of predicting what orders a Sheriff or Judge will make in these types of cases. You are at the mercy of the Sheriff's discretion about whether an award is made or not and what the level of that award should be.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A Cohabitation Agreement gives the couple the power to control what would happen to them financially if their relationship ends. Common provisions include decisions about what should happen to any properties or assets owned by one or both partners before or during the relationship; the protection of deposits paid by either partner or third parties like parents; and more simple issues like how the furniture should be divided up. More unusual provisions have even included who gets to keep the family pets after a separation. The Agreement can deal with any issues that could arise which are unique to the couple signing it.

We appreciate that at the point where you are moving in together, this is potentially an awkward and unromantic subject. However, when you think about the amount of thought and research that couples put into what house to buy together and into other joint purchases like holidays and cars, giving some thought to the financial impact that a separation could have on them should be seen as a logical step for couples to take together at such an important time in their lives.

Our view is that a Cohabitation Agreement is a relatively simple step that every unmarried couple should take together to protect against future issues and the uncertainties that could arise should the worst happen. This, together with ensuring that they both have up to date wills in force, could avoid the possibility of having to raise or defend a claim at court if a relationship ends or if one partner dies.

Contact our Cohabitation Agreement Solicitors in Glasgow and Paisley

We have three experienced family solicitors who can advise and assist you in all aspects of Family Law including the preparation of a Cohabitation Agreement and wills. Contact us by calling our Glasgow or Paisley office to arrange an appointment today or by using our online contact form.

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