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Cohabitation Agreement

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Cohabitation Agreements also known as Common Law Contracts, give structure and certainty to the legal relationship between unmarried couples that are living together. It can be compared with antenuptial contracts between married couples, but without the marriage. There are a number of reasons why cohabitating parties should regulate their proprietary affairs by means of written contract. Foremost of these relate to a partner's right to maintenance or support.

The question of a right to claim maintenance or support from the estate of a deceased domestic partner has featured in a number of recent cases. The current position adopted by our courts, is that no such right automatically exists between domestic partners. In the absence of a binding contract with the intention by both parties to be legally bound, a surviving partner will find it very difficult to convince the courts of his/her right to claim maintenance or support from a deceased partner's estate.

As with marriages, a number of issues such as joint ownership of assets, determination of assets and liabilities, division of estates, investment, maintenance, death, children and the potential for termination of the relationship need to be considered.

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