In the past, couples met, got married and bought a house to live in together. Today, the landscape is very different. There are more single person homes, more families who rent long term, flatmates or house shares are common, and so is cohabitation.
Cohabitation is a popular choice for couples who want to live together but who aren’t married, and perhaps have no plans to marry but intend to live together long term. Unfortunately, in the case of a relationship breakdown, or should one of you pass away, things can start to get very confusing in terms of who has rights and who doesn’t.
Whilst it might seem that you have the same rights as married couples who own a home together, this isn’t always the case. If you’re confused about what this means for you, read this post to know your rights with cohabitation.
Living in your current house
Often when a relationship breaks down, the first practical thought will be ‘who will live where?’ For cohabiting couples, the property continues to belong to the owner, whether that’s you or your other half. If you don’t own the house, it’s not likely that you will be able to remain living there long term.
If you bought the property together and have a joint mortgage, you are both liable for the full mortgage amount each month – you can’t just pay your half, however if you choose to sell you will both be entitled to any money made from the sale. Alternatively, one person may choose to buy the other out so they can remain living in the house as the sole owner.
Making a will
You and your partner may have been together for years, but in the eyes of the law you aren’t married and therefore should one of you pass away, the rights you assumed your partner would have may not be there. Protect each other’s interests, assets and future by establishing a will which outlines in black and white what you want to happen with your property and finances should the worst happen. This ensures your partner is protected and not left vulnerable. For more help and advice with creating a will, talk to our team.
Forward planning with a cohabitation contract
For peace of mind and to ensure things don’t get overly complicated further down the line, why not consider a cohabitation agreement or contract? This can protect you both should you separate without ever being married, to ensure that safeguards are put in place. Formalising your intentions with a solicitor now could prevent severe stress and confusion later.
At Harry McPartland & Sons, we have lots of experience with matrimonial and family law, and can advise you on how best to approach the legal side of cohabitation, family matters, living arrangements and wills. Contact us today to find out more.