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Relationship Agreements

It is a very sad fact that many relationships between couples break down and when they do, it can cause not only a great deal of heartache, but it can also become a long drawn out and costly matter. Relationship agreements are legally drawn up documents which can help protect you from unnecessary cost and litigation in the future. They can be in the form of a Cohabitation Agreement, (also known as a Living Together Agreement) or Prenuptial Agreement, Pre-Civil Partnership Agreement or Postnuptial Agreement. Routh Clarke can help you to draw up the right agreement for your circumstances.

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Types of Agreement

Cohabitation Agreements

People rarely start living together having already prepared for what could happen if things go wrong, as it’s certainly not a very romantic way to start this exciting stage of your life. However, unfortunately, the statistical reality is that at some stage it is likely for the relationship to break down and that means at some point in the future you will probably wish you had officially set out your intentions at the start of the relationship in the form of a Cohabitation agreement.

In the UK there is no such thing as a "common law husband and wife". This can have disastrous results for people when a relationship breaks up or when a partner dies. In some ways, cohabitees are treated like a married couple, such as when applying for a mortgage or working out child support. However, in some other areas, such as property rights, pensions and inheritance, they are treated very differently. Plus, unlike marriages and civil partnerships, there is no law allowing the Court to take all of the circumstances into account to ensure a fair result is received.

The other harsh reality for many people is when a partner dies suddenly, without leaving a Will. This means the surviving partner has no claim to their loved one’s estate. Whichever way, a break-up or an unexpected death, it can leave a very complex and financially difficult situation, which will end up taking a great deal of time and money to sort out. Our advice would always be to create a Cohabitation Agreement (or Living Together Agreement) at the outset. There is then a clear statement or agreement at the start of the relationship, as to how things should be dealt with if the relationship ends.

If you would like to discuss the possibility of drawing up a Living Together Agreement, call or email us now for some free initial advice. For more information on what a Cohabitation Agreement is, whether it is legally binding and the risks of not having one, please visit our Cohabitation agreements page

Prenuptial Agreements

A Prenuptial Agreement (Prenup) is a formal contract entered into prior to marriage or a civil partnership, which sets out what should happen if you divorce or separate in the future.

Prenuptial Agreements have become more fashionable over the years, however, they do not yet have the status in the UK that they have in America. A prenup is not legally binding in the UK, however, since a case known as Radmacher, it has become much more persuasive on the Court. This means it is something that will be taken into account along with everything else, when deciding how to deal with the financial ramifications of divorce or separation. To find out more, please see our Prenuptial Agreement page.

Pre-Civil Partnership Agreements

A Pre-Civil Partnership Agreement is a formal contract entered into prior to a civil partnership which sets out what should happen if you wish to dissolve your partnership or separate in the future.

Before entering into Civil Partnership, both parties should consider the same financial forward planning, just as heterosexual couples do before marriage. A Pre-Civil Partnership Agreement gives you an opportunity to protect your pre-acquired assets, in the event of the Partnership breaking down. Particularly as recent case law (Gallagher –v– Lawrence) has shown that Civil Partnerships will be treated in a similar way to marriages when thinking about the distribution of pre-acquired assets.

Postnuptial Agreements

A Postnuptial agreement (Post-Nup) is similar to a prenuptial agreement, it only differs because it is drawn up after a couple gets married, or enters into a civil partnership, rather than beforehand. The agreement is a written contract providing details on how the couple’s assets and property will be split if the couple divorce or separate in the future, or if one of them were to die. It can also set out arrangements for any children from the relationship.

Postnuptial Agreements have become more popular over the last few years. Even though they are still not legally binding, they have become much more persuasive on the Court in recent years. This means it is something that will be taken into account along with everything else, when deciding how to deal with the financial ramifications of divorce. To find out more, please see our Postnuptial Agreement page.