Establishing your rights from the word go
When informal arrangements break down, people are often shocked to find they have little or no rights. With agreements in place in advance, solutions are much easier to reach and can prevent unpleasant consequences. We draft legal documents and agreements that set down what you and your partner or friends want to happen should things not go to plan.
Unmarried couples do not have the same level of protection as married couples however there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of either facing costly legal proceedings and/or leaving a relationship with nothing.
When it comes to living with partners, taking out shared mortgages or living with friends, prevention is always better than cure.
A Living Together or Cohabitation Agreement can help to achieve this. These agreements needn't be complex, but they should be frank and to be watertight you need to be honest with each other about what you own, earn and owe. In other words, you need to know what you are agreeing to.
If you have or are contemplating children, you may want to consider what would happen to them in the event of any change in circumstances both during and if the relationship ended.
Other areas to consider may labour within the home and other 'minor' issues that can easily fester.
However, the one issue that you must address if you do nothing else is to agree on how any property that you occupy (if not rented) is to be owned. This is as true for a situation where one party already owns the home as it is when you are buying somewhere together.
This can be achieved as simply as specifying the percentage each owns when purchasing a property on the form TR1 to having a Declaration of Trust drawn up.
In a similar way to a Pre-Nuptial Agreement, Cohabitation Agreements have a special place in law. The Courts will not allow you to sign away any rights that the law gives you, but will generally uphold an agreement if it appears to be fair and demonstrates that you have both been open and honest from the outset.
At Rosie Bracher we can assist in preparing an appropriate Deed that would be as legally binding as any legal contract between two parties providing both piece of mind and potentially saving you from the time and stress not to mention cost that sadly can be endured now when unmarried couples separate.
Below are some frequently asked questions together with brief replies. Please contact us to arrange an appointment if you require further information.
My partner owns our house – do I have any rights in it?
If you have moved in with someone then usually the answer is no. If you have contributed to its purchase or the mortgage or you've agreed with your partner that you are to have an interest and have subsequently relied on that then you may have a claim. These cases are often complex, time consuming and expensive. You should ensure you record all payments made and if possible, have any agreement in writing.
Can I be forced out of the family home?
If you are a legal owner, then only a Court can order you to leave. Even if you're not the legal owner you may have an interest if you have for example contributed to the deposit and may then have a right to occupy. If you have children, you may have a right to remain with them. You should always take specialist legal advice before moving out.
Our house is in joint names, but I paid the deposit do I get more than 50%?
Possibly not. If the title deeds do not record this then you are likely to receive half each unless you can prove there was an agreement to the contrary or that there is other evidence to support your claim. This is rarely easy or straightforward.
Our house is in joint names – what will happen if my partner dies?
This depends on whether you own the property as joint tenants or tenants in common. If the former, then the house will automatically pass to you subject to any mortgage(s). If the latter their share would pass via the terms of their Will. If they had not made a Will their share would go to their family. You might still have a claim depending on the circumstances of your relationship
What financial claims do I have against my ex-partner?
If you have dependent children, then you can claim for them either through the CMS or under the provisions of the Children Act depending upon your circumstances. Other than that, you are treated by law as two unrelated individuals and you would have no claims against either property or income upon the breakdown of your relationship other than as mentioned above.
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