Cohabiting couple ? do you own your own home ?

How does cohabiting couples of any age deal with the different contributions that they might make when looking to buy a home together?
Perhaps one person has savings and can afford the deposit but the other has a higher income and will be paying the mortgage.

Why does it even matter how cohabiting couples own a property?

This is because in most cases when an unmarried couple split up they will be stuck with the share that they agreed when they first bought the house.
Cohabiting couples who separate don’t have to go through a formal process to dissolve their relationship as married couples do.
However, they don’t have the protection of the divorce court which can make financial orders on the basis of what is fair in all the circumstances. Unmarried couples have much less legal protection.

So what are your options?

You can own your new home in two ways, either as joint tenants or as tenants in common.
Being a joint tenant means you have equal shares in the property and when one of you dies your share automatically passes to the other person irrespective of what you may have included in your Will.
Being a tenant in common means that you have separate and distinctive shares. You can have unequal shares for a fixed amount or a fixed percentage and can even have floating shares.
When a tenant in common dies their estate does not automatically pass to the other joint owner. Instead their share goes into their estate to be divided as their Will states or if they have not left a Will then it would be divided as the Intestacy Rules require.
If you are looking to have unequal shares in the property then it is importantly that your shares are very clearly set out. For example, you may want a document called a Declaration of Trust to set out the shares that you have agreed.

If you want to be clear about who owns what and how you will divide the contents of your home, personal belongings, bank accounts etc then you should also consider having a Living Together or Cohabitation Agreement.
This agreement can also be used to set out how you and your partner will manage your day to day finances. – who will pay what?
A Cohabitation Agreement can provide for certainty as to what should happen if you were to split up.

So if you are considering buying a house together and are unmarried it is important that you get early legal advice as to your rights and options available.

Here at Chafes Hague Lambert Solicitors, our family & matrimonial team offer free no obligation initial consultations to help you make an informed decision.

We also have a specialist team of solicitors that can offer advice in relation to Tax, Trusts and Estates in the event you want to make or revise a Will for added protection.

We have offices based in Alderley Edge, Knutsford, Macclesfield, New Mills, Urmston and Wilmslow so if you require any advice on separation please contact one of our family lawyers at any of our offices for a free initial interview



Read our next news story:

Co-habiting? Who gets the house if one of you die?