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27 Living Together and Your Rights if You Separate

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1 Introduction

2. How is living together different from being married?

3. Setting up home

4. Making a 'living-together agreement'

Making a living-together agreement is a good idea because it is a way of clearly recording what you have both agreed to. If you ever split up, it helps to prove what you agreed together, preventing costly arguments. You can also make the promises in such an agreement binding, like a legal contract, if it is drawn up as a ‘deed’ (a formal legal document which is like a contract).

You can write down all the things you agree – about who will pay for what and how you will share the home. You can say what you think would be fair if you split up.

You cannot legally stop each other going to court and trying to get a different result, but there are several good reasons for trying to make a living-together agreement.

  • It helps you to get a lot of issues clear at the outset - if you don't, these can cause arguments later.
  • It helps you both to think about the future and how you see your relationship.
  • If you do split up and you go to court, the court will look at what you agreed together. The court is likely to uphold what was written in the agreement.

Does a living-together agreement have to be in a set form?
No. There are several books you can buy with legal ‘precedents’ (templates or guide forms) that you can use, but you can write the agreement in any way you like. The Advice Services Alliance website has practical advice about this (see ‘Further help’). It would be a good idea to take legal advice to make sure the document covers all the important areas and is legally watertight. Make sure you both sign and date it, and keep a copy somewhere safe.

Having a child or changing your job or home could change the basis of your original agreement. If your lives change in a way that you did not foresee, you may need to change the agreement to reflect this. It is a good idea in any case to review the agreement every two or three years to make sure that it still meets your needs and is fair.

5. When you are living together

6. If you or your partner dies

7. State benefits for people living together

8. Tax matters

9. Pensions

10. If you split up

11. Arrangements if you have children

12. Sorting out the home

13. Sorting out other items you own

14. Dealing with emergencies

15. Terms used in matters to do with living together

16. Further help

17. About this leaflet

The leaflets in this series give you an outline of your legal rights. They are not a complete guide to the law and are not intended to be a guide to how the law will apply to you or to any specific situation. The leaflets are regularly updated but the law may have changed since this was printed, so information in it may be incorrect or out of date.

If you have a problem, you will need to get more information or personal advice to work out the best way to solve it. See 'Further help' for sources of information and advice.

This leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with Imogen Clout, a solicitor and mediator specialising in family law.

Leaflet version: January 2009

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