Cohabitation Disputes – How can we help?

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A cohabitation dispute typically refers to a legal disagreement or conflict between individuals who have been living together in a domestic partnership or cohabiting arrangement. Cohabitation disputes may arise in various contexts, such as romantic relationships, familial situations, or shared living arrangements among friends.

Common issues in cohabitation disputes can include disagreements over property rights, financial matters, child custody when couples separate, and other responsibilities that often arise when people live together. Unlike married couples, individuals in cohabiting relationships may not have the same legal protections and rights, which can lead to disputes when the relationship breaks down.

The resolution of cohabitation disputes may involve legal proceedings, negotiations, or alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation.

It’s essential for individuals in cohabiting relationships to be aware of their legal rights and responsibilities, and they may consider formalising certain aspects of their relationship through legal agreements to help prevent or address disputes in the future.

When do disputes arise?

Cohabitation disputes can arise between ex partners as well as family and friends if they have previously decided to buy a property and live together.

Disputes between ex partners can arise when a relationship breaks down and the parties disagree on how to share and/or divide the property. Many unmarried couples believe they are ‘common law spouses’, however there is no such thing as ‘common law marriage’ for cohabiting couples. Only couples that are legally married or in a civil partnership are protected by marital law.

Disputes between family and friends can arise when multiple parties have paid for the property and one party wants to sell and the other does not. Such issues should ideally be discussed and planned for at the outset of buying a property, as well as deciding on whether they are joint tenants or tenants in common.

Making a cohabitation agreement

cohabitation agreement, also known as a cohabitation contract, living together agreement or declaration of trust, is a legal document that sets out the rights and responsibilities of unmarried couples or the legal owners of a property living together. It can be a valuable tool for couples who want to clarify their expectations and protect their assets in the event of separation or death.

There are many reasons why a cohabitation agreement can be beneficial for couples or parties living together. Some of the key benefits include:

  • Clarity and understanding: A cohabitation agreement can help to ensure that both partners are on the same page about their expectations for the relationship, including finances, property ownership, decision-making, and future plans.
  • Protecting assets: A cohabitation agreement can help to protect each partner’s assets in the event of separation or death. This can be particularly important for couples who have built up significant assets together, such as a home, savings, or investments.
  • Avoiding disputes: A cohabitation agreement can help to prevent disputes and disagreements from arising in the event of separation or death. By clearly outlining their expectations, couples can avoid the stress and uncertainty of having to resolve these issues in court.

A cohabitation agreement can be tailored to meet the specific needs and circumstances of each couple. However, there are some general provisions that are typically included in these agreements. These may include:

  • Financial arrangements: This may include provisions for how household expenses will be shared, who will be responsible for debt repayment, and what will happen to shared assets in the event of separation or death.
  • Property ownership: If the couple is living in a shared property, the agreement should specify who owns the property to avoid any property disputes and how any proceeds from the sale of the property will be divided in the event of separation or death.
  • Children: If there are children involved, the agreement should address issues such as child custody, visitation rights, and child support.

Cohabitation dispute resolution

The family law teams on our panel have extensive experience in dealing with cohabitation disputes and, as such, are experts in the dispute resolution options available for clients. Cohabitation disputes can become complex and dispute resolution is a way of resolving disagreements while avoiding court cases.

There are different types of dispute resolution available including mediation and arbitration. Using alternative dispute resolution methods can save both parties valuable time and money, as proceeding to court can be costly and time consuming.

In the event that dispute resolution fails then you can apply to court under section 14 of the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (‘TLATA’).

How can Expert Family Law assist?

We understand that cohabitation disputes can be incredibly complex. The cohabitation solicitors on our panel can provide you with the best advice

Additionally, our panel of fixed-fee family solicitors offer a range of other family services such as divorce and financial settlements following the breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership (ancillary relief). We can also provide advice on domestic violence cases, child arrangements and child maintenance disputes.

We ensure that the experienced family lawyers from law firms on our panel have the skills required to assist with your legal case. We can assure you that your case will be dealt with in a compassionate and understanding manner.

If you are seeking legal advice on cohabitation disputes, please get in touch today using the form at the top of the page to find out if a solicitor could help with your case.



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