This year, Chris and Rachel each made a big, exciting decision – to move in with their respective partners for the first time.
Chris had worked tirelessly to save up a deposit for his new house – a four-bedroomed place where he hoped to raise a family one day. His girlfriend could contribute only a quarter of the deposit, but agreed to share mortgage payments with him.
Rachel had lived in her flat for three years, after purchasing it using an inheritance from her grandparents. She wanted her boyfriend to move in and he offered to pay all the bills in lieu of rent.
In the midst of the house-warming parties and decorating plans, it may not seem like the time to consider what might happen if you were to break up. But in fact, it can be a good conversation to have before the big move.
There are over six million cohabiting couples in the UK, but many have no idea that under current laws in England and Wales, they have no automatic rights or protections when they break up. This is the case no matter how long they have been together.
When it comes to housing, cohabitees are reliant on land and trust law to sort out any disputes over the family home. But because these laws were never designed for the specific needs of cohabiting couples, the outcome is often uncertain. With this in mind, it can stave off future conflict, and legal costs, if the couple’s intentions regarding the property are clearly recorded.
This is where a Cohabitation Agreement comes in.
A cohabitation agreement can be tailored to meet the specific needs of a couple, by recording details as to:
- who owns what
- who will pay the mortgage and other household expenses
- what should happen to assets and property if you separate
- your intentions as to any future property or assets
After seeking advice from family lawyers, Chris arranged a declaration of trust to reflect his and his girlfriend’s initial contributions to their new home, and a cohabitation agreement to set out how they would share mortgage payments and bills. Rachel chose to arrange a cohabitation agreement with her boyfriend, protecting her ownership of the flat and agreeing that he would pay the household bills.
It was a big conversation for all four of them, but it gave them each a feeling of certainty and security once it was done.
Our solicitors can advise and assist you to handle the discussion sensitively, and then formalise your agreement taking into account you and your partner’s wishes, contributions and long-term plans.
Then you can start planning the house-warming!