Moving in with a partner is an exciting prospect, but for parties who are unmarried or have not entered into a Civil Partnership, it is sensible to think about the impact this step might have on the parties’ assets; in most cases a party’s primary concern is their property.
Parties may be purchasing a new home together or one party may be moving into a property owned by just one of them. A Cohabitation Agreement can help to protect the parties’ respective interests and aims to avoid disputes in the event of separation.
For unmarried couples, the law is clear when it comes to assets owned by one party; unless there is an agreement to the contrary, neither party will have a claim on another’s solely owned assets. When it comes to jointly owned assets, unless there is an agreement to the contrary, then beneficial interests follow legal title and the parties will have 50/50 ownership of the asset.
If the parties are not married and there are assets owned by one party alone, the other party will not have a claim on the other’s solely owned property simply by virtue of their cohabitation. However, if one party has made a contribution towards the property but they are not the legal owner, they could try to assert an interest in the property. Cases such as these which are litigated in court are expensive and unpredictable, usually because there is a distinct lack of evidence as to the parties’ intentions with the property.
How to avoid a dispute
A Cohabitation Agreement can be used to set out how the parties intend on dealing with the property as well as more general financial matters, for example, how much each party will contribute towards the household bills or whether one party alone will meet the cost of repairs or improvements. A Cohabitation Agreement can also set out how the parties intend to divide their assets or deal with any liabilities in the event of separation.
There is no Court process for obtaining a Cohabitation Agreement, however parties can negotiate the terms between themselves or through solicitors. Although parties often wish to avoid thinking about the prospect of separation and may feel that a Cohabitation Agreement is not necessary, agreeing matters early on in the process can help to avoid potential disputes and costly disagreement.
If you are thinking of moving in with a partner or purchasing a property together, you can talk to
one of TWM’s specialist family solicitors about whether a Cohabitation Agreement is suitable for you.
For more information or advice, please contact Caroline at email@example.com.
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