Last month we looked at cohabitation and recent statistics that revealed more couples are remaining unmarried yet choosing to live together than ever before.

Despite often taking a pragmatic approach to their status as cohabitees, the same can often not be said for the parties in the event they split up. Regardless of their status in the eyes of the law, the separation of an
unmarried couple can be just as emotional and difficult as it is between a married couple. This is especially the case if cohabitees have been together a number of years, perhaps accumulating joint possessions, a property and potentially having had children together.
In this situation, couples could look to a separation agreement to help find their way through the inevitably tough decisions particularly when it comes down to the ‘nitty gritty’ of who is entitled to what. Using a collaborative approach, both parties would instruct their own collaborative lawyer, who would attend joint meetings with them to come to a settlement that is agreeable by all parties. Whilst you may want to be fair and reasonable, your lawyer will also be able to advise you of the legal status of any jointly owned assets, depending on who has contributed to what.
Regarding children, where a collaborative lawyer is instructed by both parties, a couple can reach a formal agreement about childcare arrangements between themselves without the need to attend court. Whilst saving the
unnecessary stress and expense, this approach allows you to remain safe in the knowledge that the agreement has a legal grounding should you need tocall upon it at a later date.