Valentine’s Day 2023 – the Romance of a Cohabitation Agreement
Valentine’s day is coming up and our family lawyers thought it was a good time to write about cohabitation agreements. You may think that family law agreements are not romantic but our family law solicitors disagree. Their take on cohabitation agreements is that a well-prepared agreement can give you and your loved one peace of mind, in much the same way as taking out life insurance or writing a Will to provide protection.
If you want to know more about how a cohabitation agreement can help you and your loved one read on.
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What are the benefits of a cohabitation agreement?
Why should you sign a cohabitation agreement? Many people think that any type of family law agreement is unromantic and indicates you do not trust your partner. However, a cohabitation agreement can help both you and your partner by:
- Setting out if your partner will be paying towards the mortgage when they move into your property and, if so, whether they will get an equitable interest in your property and how their share of the equity will be calculated if you split up. Without a cohabitation agreement, your partner might struggle to prove that they are entitled to a share in the equity without having to start expensive court proceedings to ask a family law judge to rule on what they are entitled to because of your separation. The agreement can protect you by ringfencing your deposit and the value of your equity in the property at the time your partner moved into your property. It can also include a fair formula to work out the split of the increased equity at the date of your separation. It is generally easier to discuss and agree on what is a fair solution when things are good between you and your partner and when neither of you is hurt or angry because of the separation. The agreement also provides a measure of certainty as no one can 100% predict the outcome of court proceedings and a property law claim
- Saying your partner will not have an equitable interest in your property because if you do not want any misunderstandings or potential property claims it is best to be upfront about the financial aspects of your relationship. That way your partner knows that if the relationship ends the agreement means they will struggle to bring a property claim
- Recording how you jointly own a property together but how the equity will be split unequally if you separate. That may a fair solution because one of you used your divorce financial settlement as the deposit for the property or you used an inheritance or a loan or gift from your parents to fund the house purchase
If you want to discuss your individual circumstances and the need for a cohabitation agreement, call our family lawyers on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form.
Financial and property planning
Whether you are buying your first house together or you are moving into your partner’s house a cohabitation agreement is sensible planning as it means you both know where you stand legally and financially when it comes to paying the bills, funding home improvements, or if you split up.
For example, family law solicitors often come across the scenario where one partner has taken out loans to pay for the car and the sofa and the holidays whilst the other partner bought the flat in their sole name and paid the mortgage. During the relationship, the partner who took out loans assumed they were a joint responsibility and that they had an interest in the flat. Legally, the loans were taken out in their sole name and they are not on the title deeds to the property. On separation, one partner gets the depreciating assets of the car and sofa and the holiday snaps. The other partner gets the equity in the property unless court proceedings are started by the partner who does not own the property to try and claim a beneficial interest in it.
Changing a cohabitation agreement
Some couples worry about signing a cohabitation agreement because they are not sure what should go into it. Your family lawyer can offer guidance on the options so you can work out the best cohabitation agreement for your personal and financial circumstances.
If your circumstances change over time then you can revise your document by agreement. For example, your in-laws may want to help you renovate the property but it is only fair that the original cohabitation agreement is revised to say that if you separate then your in-law’s gift is paid to your partner from the equity (or an amount expressed as a percentage of the equity) before the rest of the equity is split in whatever proportions are agreed by you.
How can OTS Solicitors help with your cohabitation agreement?
At OTS Solicitors our friendly family lawyers will listen to you to work out what you want from your agreement and then prepare something that fits your circumstances and reduces the risk of expensive and time-consuming court proceedings if you sadly split up with your partner.
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