If you own your own property and want to move your partner in firstly you should consider making a Living Together/Cohabitation Agreement to agree terms on property distribution should you split, otherwise it will be left to the Courts to reach decisions on any beneficial interests. If you also wish to add your partner to the Deeds, i.e. ownership of the property, or purchase a property together, it is crucial that you take legal advice before doing so.
What is a Cohabitation Agreement?
An unmarried couple can draw up and sign a Cohabitation Agreement, which will set out terms that will apply whilst you are living together, as well as establishing rights on the breakdown of the relationship. Issues which can be covered are as follows:
A Common Law Marriage?
Even though 46% of adults believe in ‘common law marriage’, your partner will not acquire a beneficial interest in your property merely by living with you, but a trust may have been created. For example, if you have suggested to them, they are entitled to a share, they contributed to the mortgage, bills or paid for major renovations, they may potentially have a claim. It is a complex area of the law and you should seek legal advice to protect your rights.
Adding your partner to the Deeds or purchasing a property together
If you do want to share ownership of your home, be clear in what percentage you each will be entitled to from the outset. By putting the property in both of your names it would be presumed that you share the beneficial interest equally even if you contributed significantly more financially. If this is not your intention, you must make a Declaration of Trust or at the very least be clear on the Transfer documents how the ownership of the property is to be held. Speak to your conveyancer (property lawyer) about the difference between joint tenants and tenants in common (where you can specify the exact percentage division).
How can we assist?
The best time to resolve who owns what is at the beginning of the cohabitation, rather than at the end of the relationship when, if you cannot agree, you will be reliant on the Court to decide. Julie McDonald Family Law is here for you whatever stage you are at and has years of experience in cohabitation cases.
We can also help you make a Will to reflect the new arrangements. It is also important that your Will provides whether or not the survivor (if one of you dies) can live in the property for a period of time following your death.