How long does it take to set up a Cohabitation Agreement and what will it cost?
Unmarried couples make up about one fifth of all family units in England and Wales yet alarmingly don’t have the same rights as married couples.
That’s why a Cohabitation Agreement is so important. What’s more, they are generally straightforward to set up, can be finalised in less than a month and in terms of the security they bring, are extremely cost effective.
What legal rights do cohabiting couples have?
Unlike married couples, there are no automatic legal rights around finances and property – even if you’ve lived together for many years and have a family together.
This means that if something goes wrong and you split up, you may not be protected as you had hoped.
What is a Cohabitation Agreement?
It’s a legal document between unmarried couples who are living together. A properly drawn cohabitation agreement is an uncomplicated and legally enforceable way of making sure you both know where you stand.
It sets out arrangements for finances and property while you are together and to cover what happens if you split up.
It details who owns what and in what proportions, what financial arrangements you have decided to make while living together and how property, assets and income should be divided if you split up.
It can be as detailed as you want, covering contents, personal belongings, savings and how much each of you contributed to the mortgage deposit and subsequent repayments.
When should you set up a Cohabitation Agreement?
We recommend that unmarried couples enter into a Cohabitation Agreement as soon as they purchase property.
This is because if you separate in the future, the Cohabitation Agreement makes it clear how any assets will then be divided between you.
Those without a legally binding Cohabitation Agreement often get into disputes over ownership of property.
This is particularly likely if one person put a greater sum into the deposit or the other party contributed nothing, but it was verbally agreed that they would meet the mortgage payments.
What does setting up a Cohabitation Agreement involve?
The first step is usually a call with a solicitor to discuss your wishes.
The solicitor will then draft the cohabitation agreement and send it to you to ensure that it has captured everything that you have asked for.
There may be some amendments to enable the agreement to be finalised. It will then be sent to the other party or their solicitor (if they have one, which we would strongly advise) to review.
If the other party is happy, they will need to sign the agreement in the presence of a witness. You will then also need to do the same. Once both parties have signed the agreement, it is legally binding.
How long does it take to get a Cohabitation Agreement up and running?
After the initial discussions, a solicitor will normally need to spend four to six hours working on the agreement, provided there are no real disagreements over its content.
A fairly straightforward Cohabitation Agreement then generally takes anywhere between three to four weeks to finalise as long as the other party is agreeable to the terms and there are no amendments.
How much does a Cohabitation Agreement cost?
Here at Wards Solicitors, you will probably pay somewhere between £1,120 and £1,680 plus VAT for a legally enforceable Cohabitation Agreement.
This is not a fixed fee and it could be more or it could be less depending on the circumstances and complexity of your assets.
A quote can be provided after a free half an hour consultation with one of our specialist Cohabitation Solicitors.
Click here to read our Legal Guide, ‘Cohabitation Agreements or No nups’.
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