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Love Island – what happens next?

A lot of people have been glued to the television every evening at 9 pm to watch the most recent series of Love Island.

For those who do not watch it, the tv show follows islanders that are placed into a villa to find love. The strongest couple gets the chance to win a cash prize of £50,000. It is the viewers, and also the islanders, that get a say as to who is the strongest couple.  Many of the islanders form secure couples and talk about what life might look like outside of the villa.

But what would life be like outside the villa? What should the contestants on Love Island think about should they decide to live together?

There is no such thing as a Common Law marriage. Cohabiting couples are therefore not able to utilise the same law as married couples, should the relationship break down. Divorcing couples can utilise the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. This enables the court to make several orders and distribute matrimonial assets fairly. Cohabiting couples, in contrast, cannot rely on this legislation. Their assets will be divided in accordance with how they hold them at law. For example, if the islanders were to buy a property together jointly as tenants in common, there is a presumption that that is how they intended to own it (i.e. half each), unless they can show the presence of propriety estoppel or a constructive trust. These are not straight forward.

So how can cohabiting couples make provisions in the event of separation? How could the islanders protect themselves? One option is to enter into a cohabitation agreement or contract. Cohabitation agreements used to be void on the ground of public policy, but this is no longer the case. There is an increasing number of couples living together who are not married, and so cohabitation agreements are becoming more common.

A cohabitation agreement is a written, signed document, usually a deed, that deals with the following:-

  1. Who owns what and in what proportions
  2. What financial arrangements have been agreement while still living together
  3. How property, assets and income should be divided should the couple split

Cohabitation agreements do not bind the courts. However, if they are signed, reasonable and both parties have had a chance to take legal advice, then the court is likely to uphold it. This provides clarity at the start of the relationship and ensures, that in the event of a breakdown, there is less scope for dispute and therefore avoids expensive legal fees for litigation.

If you, like many of the people on Love Island, are looking to start a future with a new partner and intend to move in together, it is worth obtaining legal advice on what impact that could have financially. If this is something that relates to you, please contact us.

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