I’ve invit­ed James Maguire, a lead­ing expert in Fam­i­ly and Inter­na­tion­al Fam­i­ly Law, to guest blog on Com­mon Law.

By way of back­ground, we have just com­plet­ed a lease­hold sale & pur­chase for a client in London.The client was sell­ing a prop­er­ty in his sole name & using a sig­nif­i­cant equi­ty uplift to assist buy­ing a new prop­er­ty with his girl­friend. We advised him to sign a Dec­la­ra­tion of Trust which would ensure the unequal deposit con­tri­bu­tions would be reflect­ed when the prop­er­ty was even­tu­al­ly sold.

How­ev­er, on tak­ing his instruc­tions, it became appar­ent that the con­tin­u­ing con­tri­bu­tions to mort­gage pay­ments & main­te­nance would also be unequal. This can­not be sat­is­fac­to­ri­ly reflect­ed in a Dec­la­ra­tion of Trust and there­fore we referred our client to James for spe­cial­ist advice.

What if we separate?

Cohab­it­ing cou­ples have no such rights regard­less of the num­ber of years they have been togeth­er and whether or not they have children.

Where cohab­it­ing cou­ples joint­ly own their fam­i­ly home, the prop­er­ty is like­ly to be divid­ed 50:50, unless they made a writ­ten legal agree­ment at the time of pur­chase say­ing in what pro­por­tions they own it.

As the law stands, the only solu­tion is either to mar­ry or enter a civ­il part­ner­ship, or to draw up a Cohab­i­ta­tion Agree­ment.

What is a Cohab­i­ta­tion Agreement?

It sets out who owns what, in what shares and clar­i­fies how you will split your prop­er­ty, its con­tents, per­son­al belong­ings, sav­ings and oth­er assets should the rela­tion­ship break down. It can also cov­er how you will sup­port any chil­dren as well as bank accounts and debts.

The agree­ment can also look at the inter­im arrange­ments for you and your part­ner, for exam­ple, who will man­age your day-to-day finances whilst you live togeth­er, how much each is to con­tribute to rent or mort­gage and bills and so on.

For any such agree­ment to car­ry weight, it is very impor­tant that each of you seek inde­pen­dent legal advice. Before see­ing a Solic­i­tor, you can dis­cuss this togeth­er and set out what the agree­ment is to look like. This can then be draft­ed and the oth­er part­ner invit­ed to agree with his or her own Solicitor.

For more infor­ma­tion about Cohab­i­ta­tion Agree­ments, please get in touch with James Maguire & Co on 01625 544653 or www​.fam​i​ly​-law​.co​.uk