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Your place or mine? Why you need a cohabitation agreement

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Our Matrimonial Solicitor, Gemma Richardson tells us more:

“Last year, Twilight stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart separated and hit the headlines when they battled over who would keep their dog.

When love is in the air and your thoughts turn to moving in together, the last thing on your minds might be the practicalities of splitting-up.

When married couples divorce there are specific laws to determine how property and finances are shared. When couples who live together decide to separate matters can become a little more complex and costly.

Drawing up a cohabitation agreement could save you both from unnecessary heartache and financial turmoil in the long run.

When couples decide where they will live, there is more to consider than simply answering the question, “your place or mine?”

If you are renting, the landlord should be informed and you should consider adding both of your names to the lease. If the lease is only in your partner’s name, you may 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 you move into a property that your partner owns, even if you make contributions to the mortgage or pay towards the bills, you will not own or have any right to stay in the property. If the relationship breaks down, your partner could ask you to leave, unless you have a written agreement to the contrary.

The only exception to this is if there are children involved, then 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.

If you decide to buy a home together, there are added complications if you are not married. You will need to decide how you are going to own the home from the outset and consider what you will do if you split up, or one of you is unable to work and pay their share of the mortgage. It is therefore best to iron these potential issues at the outset, despite how unromantic this may sound!

There may be other things to think about. If you have bought the house with the financial help from parents, 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.

With a cohabitation agreement you could also clarify the contribution of each person to the daily household finances such as rent, mortgage, bills and insurance premiums. Consider how you will fund the purchase and own bigger assets such as cars and manage your bank accounts. If you build up savings, 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 consider how you will pay your outgoings if one of you has an accident and cannot work, 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 payout before signing up.”

If you would like to speak with Gemma about having your own Cohabitation Agreement drawn up or to discuss a different matrimonial related matter please call 01474 325 531 and speak to our Matrimonial team to book your free initial, no obligation consultation.