Living together during Covid-19
The Covid-19 lock-in has seen many people take the next step in their relationship at a much faster pace then they may have had planned simply because they do not want to be alone at this time and face lock-in away from each other. They now live and work together because they did not want to be apart and this time together may test the strength of their relationship. For some people, this may be a temporary measure only but for others, it is the start of a new future together.
However, it may be that being fast tracked to take relationship to the next stage means you’ve not considered any legal implications of living together.
If you are moving into your partner’s property then you will not automatically have any financial interest in the property but even if you are not married legal rights may arise as a consequence. The partner who is not the legal owner of the property may still be able to establish a legal interest in certain circumstances e.g. the length of the cohabitation, improvements to the property and the intentions of the parties and a few more. If at some point in the future you broke up with your partner then the onus would be on the non-owning party to prove that they have a financial entitlement in respect of the property.
Kidd Rapinet advise couples that communication is key even if you have already moved in together during this lockdown. This will minimise misunderstandings further down the line as to the legal and financial situation. So if you intend on contributing to the mortgage and/or household bills then talk about it. Try to be very clear from the start what financial contributions to running the property will be made and if they are intended to provide a legal interest in the property.
You may wish to consider preparing a Cohabitation Agreement with the assistance of a specialist family lawyer as this provides clarity. This can, amongst other things, set out how the mortgage repayments and utility bills will be paid, how any joint bank account will run, responsibility for structural repairs and renovations, and what will happen to the property should there be a breakdown in the relationship.
The Cohabitation Agreement can cover a variety of issues, such as:
- Ownership of assets held in sole names prior to the relationship
- How you pay rent/mortgage, utilities, and other outgoings
- Ownership of assets acquired during the relationship
- Ownership of gifts received during the relationship
- Liability for debts, such as overdraft, credit cards, and bank loans, for example
- Ownership of vehicles
- What will happen if you separate
It would not be appropriate for the same firm of solicitors to advise both parties about the content and effect of the Agreement, due to potential conflicts of interests, so each of you should obtain separate legal advice before signing the Agreement.
If you would like to discuss a cohabitation agreement or any other family law issue, please speak to Reshma Sunnassee at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01296 509985. At this current time, we can no longer offer a face-to-face service at our offices however appointments can be carried out via phone, email and video conferencing.