The High Court has settled a dispute between a cohabiting couple over who should own the home they had shared until they split up. The couple, Mr Lee Hudson and Ms Jayne Hathway, had purchased their home in joint names. They both worked and paid their respective salaries into a joint account. Over time, Hudson’s earnings
Living Together & Cohabiting Couples
Our divorce and family lawyers are able to advise former cohabitees as to their respective entitlements on the breakdown of their relationship.
Talk to one of our friendly and experienced team on 01442 872311
For two people planning to live together, we are able to advise and assist in drawing up a Cohabitation Agreement which will set out the agreement reached between you and your partner regarding your finances and joint assets if you subsequently separate.
Cohabitees must be aware of current UK laws and legal rulings regarding cohabitation and cohabitant disputes. Couples involved in a cohabitation relationship do not currently have the same legal rights as those who are married or in a civil partnership. The legal principles which apply when cohabitation breaks down are mainly found in trust and property law.
Cohabitants should seek legal advice when purchasing a home, entering into mortgage agreements and other joint financial ventures which might affect them in the event of a dispute. Co-buyers of a property should be aware of the difference between a Joint Tenancy and a Tenancy in Common.
What is the difference between a Joint Tenancy and a Tenancy in Common?
Both parties will hold the property equally and there will be no distinct shares of ownership. Upon the death of a party, the survivor will automatically become the sole owner of the party regardless of what is said in will.
Tenants in Common
Both parties each hold a distinct share in the property and can leave their share under a will or, in the absence of a will, the intestacy rules will apply. It is strongly recommended that if you own the property in unequal shares or have contributed unequally to the purchase price that this is recorded in a Trust Deed to clearly identify each party’s legal & beneficial interest in the property.
Our family law team can help you make the appropriate declarations at the time of purchase and to ensure clarity for both parties in the event of disputes.
If a non-legal owner does not have any legal interest in the property he or she will have no right to remain there and may be excluded by the owner at any time on giving reasonable notice. Having said that, there are several ways to protect occupation rights for non-legal owners.
Many of the problems faced by couples at the end of a cohabitation relationship can be addressed during the relationship by the use of a deed of trust or cohabitation agreement.
Cohabitation or Living Together Agreements
If you and your partner are planning to live together we can help you and your partner draw up a cohabitation agreement.
A cohabitation agreement will apply while you are living together and will establish rights on the breakdown of a relationship. It will set out agreements about your finances if you subsequently separate.
This is still a relatively new area of law and there is no decision on the validity of such agreements. However, the courts have indicated that there is nothing contrary to public policy in a cohabitation agreement and more couples are now seeking such agreements.
To ensure that the agreement has the best chance of being upheld by a court, it is advisable that each party obtains independent legal advice and provide full financial disclosure.
Related Resources (View more resources)
Presentation slides from the webinar ‘Cohabiting Couples & Living Together – What are your legal rights?’
The new no-fault divorce law comes into effect from the 6th April. Read our helpful factsheet to learn more about the upcoming changes
Join Stephen Nolan and Richard Phillips for our latest #AskMachins podcast focussing on the Mediation process in Family Law. If you have any questions or would like to get in touch with our Family Law Team then they’d to love to hear from you on 01442 872311
Take a look at some of the common myths and misconceptions in family law.