London Evening Standard
March 31, 2014
Couples turning to cohabiting in record numbers can sign quick online “no-nup” legal agreements from tomorrow.
The no-nup is a living together agreement for couples who are not married, or have no intention of marrying.
Similar to pre-nup deals for those tying the knot, they set out in legal terms financial arrangements and the distribution of assets, making it clear who owns what, in the event of a split.
Online service rocketlawyer.co.uk aims to help couples create their own cohabitation agreements in around 20 minutes, from a template that has been drafted by a lawyer.
The no-nups are intended to have the same legal weight as pre-nups, which the courts have accepted as decisive — as long as they are fair — since a Supreme Court ruling in 2010.
It backed a pre-nup agreement signed by German heiress Karen Radmacher, believed to be worth £100 million, and her husband.
No-nups have yet to be tested in the courts.
The agreement is aimed at protecting property and assets owned by each partner before cohabiting to ensure ownership is retained in the event of a split.
It is intended to make clear that each partner will retain their income, but any assets jointly acquired will be divided equally, as will joint debts. Any gifts exchanged will remain in the receiver’s possession.
It also specifies how household bills and living expenses will be paid by each partner during cohabitation.
This protection and clarity is particularly important for couples starting out on the housing ladder together, as well as individuals who have a partner living in their property.
In all cases the no-nup is intended to make the couple’s respective financial intentions clear and ring-fence important assets.
The number of cohabiting couples in the UK has doubled to 6.5 million in the past 20 years, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Mark Edwards, general manager at rocketlawyer.co.uk, said: “Finances may be tight but with more couples choosing to live together now than ever before, it’s a good idea to set out your financial arrangements with a cohabitation agreement from the outset so you are both clear about who owns what and how much each of you is contributing financially.”
Mr Edwards said membership to the site costs £25 per month and includes unlimited legal documents, 30-minute free consultations with specialist lawyers and up to 33 per cent off additional legal fees.
It may not be romantic but it’s the sensible thing to do
Camilla Johnson and her partner Ben Lloyd-Davies are both keen to sign a no-nup agreement — though they admit it doesn’t sound very romantic.
Ms Johnson, a 27-year-old website editor, and Mr Lloyd-Davies, 30, a head of business development, live in Limehouse in a flat owned by Ms Johnson’s father.
Ms Johnson, who acts as landlord, said: “A no-nup is not the most romantic thing to do when first moving in together but couples have to be sensible.
“Over time you accumulate, you buy assets together, you borrow money together.
“It makes sense to write down these things so you know where you stand if there is a ‘conscious uncoupling’. Break-ups are hard enough without the argument over who owns what.
“Also to write down how much each person is contributing to bills is something Ben and I were both eager to document.”
She added: “Ben and I have furnished the flat with our own things and with possessions which we have bought jointly together.
“With a cohabitation agreement if we did ever break up then we are both clear on who owns what.
“If we ever borrow money jointly, we agree that we are both liable for that debt, no matter what happens.
“Thirdly, we wanted an agreement which clearly stated how much Ben has to contribute towards living expenses.
“There is a responsibility on my part as a landlord to tell Ben exactly what he needs to pay for and how much I am contributing.”