A couple moving in or buying a house together is always very exciting, whether you are married, in a civil partnership or unmarried. But, unmarried couples living together do not have the same legal rights as married couples or civil partners in the event of a break-up or death. This is the case even if you and your partner have children or have been living together a long time.
A cohabitation agreement is a document which sets out who owns what and makes clear the rights and responsibilities that each of you will have following a break-up or the death of one of you. This agreement may not necessarily be legally binding unless both of you obtain legal advice, but a court can use it for guidance in the case of a dispute. It can cover what happens to property, child support and care, how you deal with debts, joint purchases and bank accounts as well as anything else. Although this could appear unromantic, an agreement of this kind could prevent financial or legal problems in the future, for example from one partner suddenly finding themselves without a home or money or with too much debt.
If you already owned a property before meeting the other partner, they will not have any rights towards the property unless they can show the contributed financially, such a deposit, mortgage payments, or another financial commitment such as paying for refurbishments in exchange for a share of the house.
Alternatively, you can buy a property as joint tenants or tenants in common, or one partner can buy half of the property the other partner owns.
If one of you dies without a will, the survivor partner does not have any automatic right of inheritance. The surviving partner can only make a claim against the deceased’s estate if they were financially supported by the deceased and you have been living together for more than two years. Having a will in which you specify what the other partner can inherit would make it easier for the surviving partner by providing clarity. If one or both of you also have children by other people, only your own children will have an automatic right of inheritance, so you will need a will if you wish to leave anything to your partner’s children.
Thanks for contacting Access Solicitor. We'll get back to your enquiry as soon as possible, and during normal business hours this should be within the next 30 minutes. We look forward to helping you find the legal advice you need.
Access Solicitor Customer Care