Cohabitation & Separation

At the present time, cohabiting couples, however long they have been together, do not have the same legal rights and duties as married couples or those in a civil partnership. There is no duty to support the other party (save child maintenance) and when dealing with property, the Courts look at contributions and intentions.

If a property is bought by a couple jointly then the Court will deal with any dispute upon separation under the law of trust depending on whether the property is held as joint tenants or tenants in common. Where one party owns the property outright, the non-owner will need to establish a beneficial interest in the property.

This is a very complex area of law and can cause many problems upon separation. We have extensive knowledge in dealing with trusts, both upon the purchase of a property and following a relationship breakdown. One way of avoiding problems in the future is to seek advice when you jointly purchase a property, or if you invest in a property upon purchase or cohabitation.

A Declaration of Trust can be entered into setting out your respective interests in the property and this can be used in conjunction with a Living Together Agreement (also known as a Cohabitation Agreement) which can set out the basis upon which you are cohabiting and can deal with all assets, the payment of outgoings, debts etc. The latter can be relevant whether the property is in joint names or not, and can be seen as evidence of your intentions in any future separation. It is important to seek legal advice immediately upon separation to establish your rights.

We are happy to discuss your requirements and advise on costs, which can include fixed fee arrangements.