Cohabitation Agreements & Declaration of Trusts

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.

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.

So what are your rights if you live together? 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 in a Cohabitation Agreement and / or a Declaration of Trust

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:

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. If you and your partner are buying a property in unequal shares, this can be reflected in the title deeds either by way of buying the property as “tenants’ in common in unequal shares” or ring-fencing the initial contribution by way of a “Declaration of Trust”

If your partner is moving in with you, we always recommend a “Cohabitation Agreement” which will:-

  1. Set out the value of any property which a party has brought to the relationship

  2. Clearly define who will be paying for what whilst living together e.g. one party may pay the mortgage and they will then share equally the remaining Council Tax and utility bills and

  3. Confirm what will happen should the relationship come to an end such as who will be moving out, in what time scale and what will they take with them.

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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