Cohabitation is more common in the UK than marriage, yet the law relating to couples who cohabit is more complex and has not kept up with modern relationships. It is therefore very important that if you are considering living together, that you know your rights. The outcome if you separate may be very different to what you expect and the cost of pursuing cases to court is expensive, protracted and uncertain. In addition, you could end up paying the other persons costs if you are unsuccessful.
So what are your rights if you live together? The majority of law relating to couples who live together is governed by old property trust law. There has over the last decade been various attempts by Government and then legal community to bring about change for couples who cohabit. However, none have been successful in simplifying the legal rights for cohabitees.
Due to the complex nature of the law in this area, we recommend our client’s consider setting out their intentions before they start to cohabit. Whether you are considering moving in with someone, or buying a house together, it is important that at the outset you set out your plans regarding your cohabitation and what to expect should you separate.
We understand your needs and concerns and so for example, you may need advice on:
All of these questions are common and understandable. However, if you do not define at the outset, what is to happen if the property is sold, the legal outcome if you separate could be far different from what you thought would be the case. What you may not know is that, if you buy a house together and you put in unequal contributions to the purchase price, unless you set out who gets what from the sale proceeds, the law would presume that you owned the property in equal shares. As a result any deposit provided from your savings or a gift from a parent would be shared with your former partner and given the restrictive nature of the law, you would be unlikely to recover the money if you took your former partner to court.
There are also a lot of other misconceptions surrounding rights of cohabitee’s, for example, if you move into your partner’s home and pay for lavish decoration, unless you undertake significant renovations like installing new kitchen or bathroom, you are unlikely to establish an interest in the property.
This is also the case even if you pay half the mortgage, it does not automatically mean that you will establish an interest in the property, no matter how long you have lived together. There is no such thing as a common law wife or husband. You may own your own home and want to protect it from a new partner, unless you enter into an agreement about your individual rights over the property, you cannot be sure your interest will be protected.
Our solicitors are used to negotiating the difficulties which stem from the breakdown of a cohabiting relationship. We know what issues arise and are experienced in drafting agreements which clearly set out what will happen when a couple separates, lessening the worry and allowing the couple to enjoy living together, without uncertainty.
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"Lindsey Canning handled my divorce right through from initial consultation to final hearing. Lindsey was quite literally a rock for me throughout proceedings which eventually ran to 2 years, She was professional, efficient and determined throughout to get the best result for me and my complex case. If it was not for Lindsey’s patient and understanding manner I dread to think where the case could have ended up and I would not hesitate to recommend. Throughout a very difficult time Lindsey supported me, kept me informed throughout and was very realistic about possible outcomes in my case. Lindsey kept a calm and pragmatic manner at all times and is a great listener. I can’t thank her enough for her efforts and support throughout the last 2 years I would not be in the financial position I am now without her." I will continue to use Wake Smith for any of my legal needs and that’s all down to Lindsey Canning.
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