What is a cohabitation / life partnership agreement?
If you live with your partner, or you are planning to live together (whether as a heterosexual or same sex couple), you can enter into a cohabitation agreement also called a life partnership agreement. This can set out the ownership of existing assets (including property), what your financial responsibilities will be towards each other and how savings and jointly owned assets will be distributed should you later split up. In South-Africa it is also commonly used as part of a spousal visa application.
More and more couples now choose to live together before they get married or enter into a civil partnership, or choose never to have their relationship legally recognised at all (by marriage or civil partnership). However, cohabiting does not entitle you to the same legal rights as marriage as it does not bind you together in the eyes of the law. For couples who are living together or have shared assets, this can lead to issues and uncertainties upon separation.
You have no express legal rights in a relationship if you are not married or in a civil partnership except in respect of jointly owned assets.