Cohabiting and Same Sex Couples
Same-sex couples may have recently become eligible for marriage in some countries, however if the couples home country does not recognise same-sex marriages the marriage is likely to be void within that country.
There are over four million cohabiting couples in England and Wales. In recent years gay couples have received more rights when it comes to cohabitation. In 2005 couples who have entered into a civil partnership were offered the same rights as married couples. Same sex couples have now become entitled to next-of-kin status on property, tax and pensions. The fact that approximately 25% of gay male couples and 30% of gay female couples have children further supports the recommendation that same-sex couples enter into a cohabitation agreement to cover child custody issues in the event of a break up. A cohabitation agreement is recommended not only for cohabiting couples but also for couples who have entered into a civil partnership. A cohabitation agreement is similar to a prenuptial agreement which outlines the arrangements for the outcome of the civil partnership should the relationship dissolve.
However, there are still many differences between marriage and civil partnerships which gay couples have been campaigning against in a bid for legal recognition. Same sex couples are required to prove their commitment to one another before they are permitted to register their partnership. It is likely that a term will be imposed, requiring same-sex couples to show that they have been entered into a relationship for two years before being eligible to register a partnership. Cohabitation agreements and Wills will be essential for same sex couples to protect their security in the event of a break up.
Gay couples may be in an even more vulnerable position than other couples whilst cohabiting. Therefore, entering into a cohabitation agreement is wisely advised to clarify their arrangements for mutual financial support, dealing with debts and looking after children etc.