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Unmarried couples risk costly legal disputes

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A family lawyer has advised unmarried couples who are living together to seriously consider a co-habitation agreement.

There has been a sharp increase in the number of co-habiting couples in the last two decades, which has led to a rise in legal disputes when they separate, especially when children are involved.

Mark Day, partner and head of the family unit at York-based Langleys Solicitors, said such disputes can be complex, expensive and distressing.

“No-one enters into a relationship expecting it to end but unfortunately many couples do separate. When this happens, most people want to resolve the arrangements amicably and as easily as possible – and with minimal legal cost,” said Mark.

“Co-habitation agreements give security and peace of mind if the unexpected happens. They help to avoid expensive legal disputes over the division of assets and financial provision.

“Children from previous relationships can have their inheritances protected. If parents help adult children get on the property ladder, their loans or gifts can be ring-fenced to avoid it being divided between the separating couple.

Langleys also advises couples to make wills that detail what will happen in the event of a death.

Anyone who is in a cohabiting relationship who is buying a property or re-mortgaging either in their sole name or jointly with a partner should take advice about protecting their investment unless both partners are making equal contributions to the purchase cost.  

Mark Day
Mark Day

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