Living with your partner?

A year after they met, Anne and David bought a house and moved in together.

They drew up a legal agreement defining who owned what proportion of the property. Because she paid a big deposit from the sale of her flat, it was decided that she owned two-thirds, and he owned one-third. They agreed to pay equal shares of the mortgage and bills.

Initially, all went well. They never got married or had children, but had lots of fun.

A few years later, David met someone else and moved out. It was a messy time. Anne and David argued about everything – even who got the towels and paperclips.

Time passed, and they both settled into their new lives. Anne continued living in the same house, with lodgers to help her pay the mortgage. David eventually got married.

However, things didn’t go well for him. He soon spent all the money he’d got from the house he’d shared with Anne, and he and his wife found themselves in financial difficulties. He got desperate.

One day, he phoned Anne.

She was shocked.

“You owe me some money,” he said.

“Why?” she asked.

“Because the house has gone up in value since you bought me out,” he replied.

Unfortunately for David, the law doesn’t work like that.

When they broke up, he agreed a figure with Anne via their solicitors, which she paid him in full and final settlement for his share of the house.

If you live together, you don’t have the same rights as married couples or those in a civil partnership.

That’s why it’s wise to get a family law solicitor to draw up a cohabitation agreement for you (sometimes called a ‘living together’ agreement).

The agreement spells out who is responsible for paying the mortgage and any other loans you share, and defines what happens to your property, assets and any children if you split up.

You can set up a cohabitation agreement anytime, but it’s best to do it before you buy a property, take out a joint loan, or either partner is due to inherit a substantial sum of money.

Cohabitation agreements are not necessarily legally binding, but are likely to be taken into consideration in court unless ruled unfair to you or your partner.


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