Top Tips for Cohabiting Couples to Consider

29 Nov 2019

Resolution’s members are family lawyers and other professionals committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes.

The annual Awareness Raising Week this year focuses on cohabitation. In the spirit of promoting this theme, the Trethowans family team are writing a series of short articles to assist couples either contemplating cohabitation or perhaps facing the breakdown of their relationship.

This final article is a summary of things you may like to consider when thinking about living with a new partner or indeed in a situation where you currently already live together but may like to change the financial landscape between you due to the progression of your relationship generally and perhaps a change in financial circumstances.

Top tips for cohabiting couples to consider:

  1. If you are purchasing a property, consider whether you would like to hold the property as joint tenants or tenants in common.
  2. If you are being provided a deposit from a third party such as a family member, consider whether this is a true gift to both parties or whether it is intended to revert to one party only should the relationship breakdown and, if the latter, obtain advice about how best to protect that sum of money.
  3. If a property is being purchased in your partner’s sole name, consider whether this is actually reflective of your intentions for the property and what your understanding is in terms of your interest.
  4. If a property is being purchased in joint names, be aware that it is likely that a mortgage will be in joint names also, which means you may be jointly and severally liable for this debt. There may also be early redemption penalties payable to get out of a fixed term early, which you would be equally liable for should the relationship break down. Make sure you understand your financial responsibilities and that the legal situation is reflective of your intentions.
  5. If a property is being purchased with an unequal deposit and/or with unequal mortgage contributions consider entering into a declaration of trust or cohabitation agreement to clarify your respective interests.
  6. Be aware that there is no such thing as a common law spouse!
  7. If you subsequently have children together, consider whether the financial dynamic has changed and whether your intentions regarding the property have changed. If so, consider updating the legal title and/or entering into a declaration of trust or cohabitation agreement to reflect the updated position.
  8. If in doubt at any stage, get legal advice.

We are happy to confirm that the Trethowans family team are all members of Resolution and that we offer a free initial consultation of 30 minutes to discuss any of the above issues with you.


Amy Trench