Cohabitation - Living Together
Cohabitation is when two people are living together for an extended period of time. Usually with cohabitation, it is between two people in an intimate relationship. Cohabitation usually refers to couples that live together and are not married.
Cohabitation is something that is common in the UK. This can be for a number of reasons. They may be:
- Seeing how the relationship works and whether it is something that can be pursued
- Strengthening their financial situation by cohabiting and sharing the ‘load’
- Some couples may be cohabiting as it is illegal for them to marry, i.e. same sex couples, or some interracial/interreligious marriages are not permitted
Quite simply, for 4 million of us in the UK, cohabiting is a good way to live and share their lives with the people they love, without making a permanent commitment. As much as cohabitation is a simple way to start a relationship, there are some complications involved. For example, the cohabiting couple have barely any legal rights when it comes to separation or death. Also, some couples cohabiting and with children can face many complications when it comes to separation or death.
After a certain amount of time, when the couple feel more comfortable, they may consider their options for the future. Maybe they will want to get married, or have children. Or maybe they will want to continue cohabiting for a while longer. If cohabitation is more of a permanent option then it may be wise to get a Cohabitation agreement.
Problems When Cohabitation Breaks Down
If a couple have been cohabiting for a number of years, they will feel as if they are entitled to certain options in the event of a problem. Unfortunately, this is not the case legally. If a cohabiting couple is going through a separation, these are the kind of problems that could occur:
- If they have children, they are entitled to child support, but not child maintenance
- If they lived in a property together but it was only in one person’s name, the other person has absolutely no rights to stay there
- If the father of children from a cohabiting relationship was not recorded on the birth certificate, he has no automatic parental responsibility and getting this amended can be a long process.
If someone is cohabiting and their partner dies:
- If no will was made, the bereft partner will automatically inherit nothing from the deceased. This includes property
- No state bereavement benefit will be offered
- If a will has been made and the inheritance is worth more than £285,000, the bereft will have to pay inheritance tax
By entering into a cohabitation agreement, the law allows the couple to be treated much like a married couple (in most cases) and this is a very effective way of taking good precautionary measures towards any problems in the future.
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