Back in 2014, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson separated and everyone was aware of their battle over who would keep their dog among other things. When you are in love and your thoughts turn to moving in together, the last thing you want to talk about might be the practicalities of splitting-up. When married couples divorce there are specific laws to follow that determine how property and finances are shared, however, when couples who live together decide to separate matters can become a little more complex and expensive.
Starting your new adventure drawing up a cohabitation agreement could prevent you both from unnecessary headache and financial pain in the long run. When couples decide where they will live, there are more things to consider than just answering the question, “your place or mine?”
If in your case, you decide to share a rented flat together, you might think about adding both of your names to the lease and also the landlord should be informed about your situation. If you don’t appear in the lease contract, you can find yourself with no legal right to stay there or to receive your share of the deposit unless this has been agreed in writing.
If, your situation is different and you move into your partner’s property, even if you are contributing to the mortgage or pay the bills, you will not own or have any right to stay in the property. If (hopefully not) the relationship ends up, your partner could ask you to leave the house, unless you have a written agreement to the contrary.
There is just one exception to this which only works when there are children involved, in that case, you can apply to the court to stay in the property until the children reach the age of 18 or leave home, whichever is the sooner.
In the other hand, if you decide to purchase a home together, there are some complications to add if you are not married. You will need to take a decision about how you are going to own the home from the outset and consider what you will do if you break down, or one of you is unable to work and therefore, pay their share of the mortgage. This is why it is better to talk these potential issues at the outset, despite how unromantic this may sound!
You can always find more things to think about, for instance, if you have bought the house with the financial help from your family, will they expect to be repaid? If you have taken advantage of a shared ownership scheme to buy your home, you will need to clarify the exit strategy.
One more advantage of creating a cohabitation agreement is that you could clarify what is the contribution of each person to the daily household finances such as bills, mortgage, insurance and rent, and also avoid having problems with bigger assets that you can buy together such as cars and manage your bank accounts. If you build up savings together, how will they be divided if you part company?
In today’s market, extra caution should be paid to any joint credit agreements and loans as you could find your credit reference adversely affected by your partner’s actions. You may also need to think about how you will pay your outgoings if one of you has an accident and cannot keep not working as usual, or becomes unemployed. If you are financially dependent on each other and you are considering taking out life insurance policies including critical illness cover, you should explore the options about ownership and who will be entitled to a pay out before signing up.
If you would like to speak to our Family law team about having your own cohabitation agreement drawn up or to discuss a different matrimonial related matter as mediation, please contact us on: 020 8771 5254 to get all the information you need.