More and more couples are now choosing to cohabit rather than marry and, for those relationships that then fail, people can find themselves in vulnerable positions.
The laws in respect of cohabitees are complex and not at all the same as those governing married couples. The concept of “common law husband and wife” has no legal status, and often parties are left to rely on the law of trusts to determine their shares in property, which can in turn lead to costly and lengthy negotiations.
It is important that couples receive advice before they purchase property with their partner or start to cohabit. An option is to regulate their cohabitation with a written agreement. On separation, it is important that parties take timely legal advice to ensure that their position is protected.