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Moving in together – can you sleep easy without a cohabitation agreement?

April 8, 2019 Family Law

With increases in interest rates, uncertainty over the political future of the country, and struggles raising a hefty deposit for a mortgage, it seems like a no-brainer for many couples to move in together before considering marriage.

Yes, it might solve many financial problems, and allow you to ‘test drive’ your relationship before committing to marriage, however you could be placing yourself in jeopardy if you don’t have a cohabitation agreement in place.

There is a popular misconception that couples who live together are protected should things turn sour, however there is no such thing as common law marriage in Scotland and therefore for many couples who live together but are not married or in a civil partnership, one of them could face financial hardship should the relationship end.

A cohabitation agreement is a form of legal agreement reached between an unmarried couple who have chosen to live together, in order to protect their interests.

If one partner owns the house, the basic legal position is that the non-owner has no claim to the property. However it is not always straightforward and if a couple do decide to cohabit there are legal rules that are applied on separation.

It is worth thinking about, especially if the non-owner has made financial contributions to the property – from paying towards the mortgage and utility bills to renovation costs and improvements. The non-owner can potentially make a financial claim, but to a lesser extent than a married couple arguing for economic advantage, so both parties need to ensure they have a cohabitation agreement in place.

So think with your head as well as your heart before you take the step to move in with your partner, and ensure you are protected with a cohabitation agreement.

Get in touch with Jones Whyte Family Law for specialist advice in this area.

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