GUIDE TO CO-HABITATION WITH A PARTNER

A R SOLICITORS Property Specialists... Solicitors Established 1954 AUSTIN RYDER & CO Property Specialists... SOLICITORS

AUSTIN RYDER GUIDE TO CO-HABITATION WITH A PARTNER

Moving in with your partner or purchasing a property together can seem like an exciting prospect. 

Unfortunately few couples realise how risky their situation can be from a legal point of view. Although it

may seem somewhat outdated nevertheless unmarried couples are not protected by the law in the

same way that married couples or civil partners are.  

 Common law marriage is a fallacy and does not exist. Unfortunately by the time couples realise this it is

often too late to resolve. The relationship may have broken down or a partner dies and it is often only

then  that the remaining partner realises that they do not have any legal protection.     

Thus, before moving in or buying a property together it is very worthwhile obtaining legal advice to find

out In particular what rights you each have, where you and your partner will stand in relation to various

situation and what you can each do in order to make your situation more secure.  Austin Ryder & Co

can assist you in relation to these matters.

Areas of law that may be relevant to you 

Property ownership

If you move in with someone and the property is only in their name then usually you have no right to

the proceeds in the event of that property being sold. That is unless you can establish that you have

contributed to the deposit for the house or the mortgage payments or that you have made a significant

financial commitment such as contributing towards refurbishment works because it was agreed that

you would own a share of the property. Furthermore if the property is not in your name you may have

no right to continue to live there if your partner asks you to leave. 

    

 

Also if the house is not in both your names you have no right to inherit the house if your partner dies unless they have put this in their will. If

they do not leave a will you may need to make a claim against your partner’s estate through the court but you will only be able to do this if you

have been living together for two years or more or you were being supported financially by your partner during the last part of your relationship.  

We might recommend that subject to your partner’s consent the property be transferred from your partner’s name into your joint names either

as ‘joint tenants’ or ‘tenants in common’. If you own property as joint tenants with your partner you may be entitled to a share of the proceeds of

sale if the property is sold.  Furthermore, if one of you dies the other will automatically inherit the property regardless of what is set out in your

wills. 

 However, if you own the property as tenants in common, you have a right to your own share of the property but no more. By owning as tenants

in common you can formally agree exactly what share of the property you each own by getting the solicitor to draw up a deed of trust. This can

prevent disagreements later. If either of you wants to leave your share of the property to the other when you die, this needs to be set out in a

will.

Renting together

If you are renting together it is always a good idea to have a tenancy agreement in both your names.

Children

If you have children with your partner you need to think about what the child’s surname will be and how to register their birth.  It is up to you

and your partner as to what surname you choose for your child and you can register the child’s birth jointly.   

If you and your partner are not married the mother of the child has automatic parental responsibility for the child. However, from the 1st

December 2003 if the father is jointly registered on the birth certificate he also has parental responsibility for the child. Alternatively with our

help you can enter into an agreement to share parental responsibility with your partner and this could be important later if you or your partner

split up.   If you live with someone who has a child from a previous relationship the law gives you no parental responsibility at all but again we

can advise you as to the significance of this. 

Children, separation and financial support

If you and your split up and you have children together you can apply to the Child Support Agency for child support payments and to a court for

various other types of financial help relating to your child. Again we can advise you in relation to these issues.   

Next of kin status

If your partner is ill or dies you may not be considered as their next of kin for medical purposes unless you and your partner have previously

made a written agreement. Again we can provide you with advice.    

Banking

If you and your partner have separate bank accounts you can have access to the money in your partners account. Thus, if he or she dies the

money in their account will become part of their estate and you may not therefore automatically inherit the money unless they have made

provision for this in their will assuming they have done one.   

Tax Status

You and your partner will not have the same tax benefits as  married couples or civil partners especially relating to capital gains tax and

inheritance tax.  Unlike married couples and civil partners you may have to pay tax if you want to give major assets to your partner.   

Pension Schemes

If you or your partner dies your state pension is not automatically past onto your partner.    Different rules apply to company and private

pensions and it is best to look at these carefully with your solicitor to see exactly what level of pension you and your partner have.    

Making a will

A will is a useful way of setting out what property and assets belong to you as opposed to your partner. Unless you make a will your partner will

have no automatic right to a share of your assets if you die so it is essential to have one if you want your partner or the children to inherit.   

Co-habitation contracts 

These set out in advance what each member of the relationship expect of the other both during the relationship and if they separate or one of

them dies. Technically some of the clauses may not be enforced by the courts but they may limit disagreements, have evidential value and

provide the foundation for a relationship. However, before signing such an agreement both you and your partner should seek independent legal

advice.   

Breakdown of the relationship

In many cases partners do not seek legal advice until there is a disagreement or the relationship breaks down or a partner dies.    Clearly it is

difficult to resolve matters at this point. Nevertheless we will advise you as to the best way of proceeding and protecting your interests.  We can

advise you in relation to such matters and this may especially be helpful in relation to any issues relating to the children from the relationship.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require advice and assistance in relation to these issues either by telephoning our offices, calling in or

e-mailing us.

Austin Ryder and Co is there to help you. 

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GUIDE TO CO-HABITATION

WITH A PARTNER

Solicitors Established 1954 AUSTIN RYDER & CO A R Property Specialists... Tel: 020 8804 5111 SOLICITORS

AUSTIN RYDER GUIDE TO CO-HABITATION WITH A PARTNER

Moving in with your partner or purchasing a property together can seem

like an exciting prospect.  Unfortunately few couples realise how risky

their situation can be from a legal point of view. Although it may seem

somewhat outdated nevertheless unmarried couples are not protected

by the law in the same way that married couples or civil partners are.  

 Common law marriage is a fallacy and does not exist. Unfortunately by

the time couples realise this it is often too late to resolve. The relationship

may have broken down or a partner dies and it is often only then  that the

remaining partner realises that they do not have any legal protection.     

Thus, before moving in or buying a property together it is very worthwhile

obtaining legal advice to find out In particular what rights you each have,

where you and your partner will stand in relation to various situation and

what you can each do in order to make your situation more secure. 

Austin Ryder & Co can assist you in relation to these matters.

Areas of law that may be relevant to you 

Property ownership

If you move in with someone and the property is only in their name then

usually you have no right to the proceeds in the event of that property

being sold. That is unless you can establish that you have contributed to

the deposit for the house or the mortgage payments or that you have

made a significant financial commitment such as contributing towards

refurbishment works because it was agreed that you would own a share

of the property. Furthermore if the property is not in your name you may

have no right to continue to live there if your partner asks you to leave. 

    

 

Also if the house is not in both your names you have no right to inherit the

house if your partner dies unless they have put this in their will. If they do

not leave a will you may need to make a claim against your partner’s estate

through the court but you will only be able to do this if you have been living

together for two years or more or you were being supported financially by

your partner during the last part of your relationship.  

We might recommend that subject to your partner’s consent the property be

transferred from your partner’s name into your joint names either as ‘joint

tenants’ or ‘tenants in common’. If you own property as joint tenants with

your partner you may be entitled to a share of the proceeds of sale if the

property is sold.  Furthermore, if one of you dies the other will automatically

inherit the property regardless of what is set out in your wills. 

 However, if you own the property as tenants in common, you have a right to

your own share of the property but no more. By owning as tenants in

common you can formally agree exactly what share of the property you each

own by getting the solicitor to draw up a deed of trust. This can prevent

disagreements later. If either of you wants to leave your share of the

property to the other when you die, this needs to be set out in a will.

Renting together

If you are renting together it is always a good idea to have a tenancy

agreement in both your names.

Children

If you have children with your partner you need to think about what the

child’s surname will be and how to register their birth.  It is up to you and

your partner as to what surname you choose for your child and you can

register the child’s birth jointly.   

If you and your partner are not married the mother of the child has

automatic parental responsibility for the child. However, from the 1st

December 2003 if the father is jointly registered on the birth certificate he

also has parental responsibility for the child. Alternatively with our help you

can enter into an agreement to share parental responsibility with your

partner and this could be important later if you or your partner split up.   If

you live with someone who has a child from a previous relationship the law

gives you no parental responsibility at all but again we can advise you as to

the significance of this. 

Children, separation and financial support

If you and your split up and you have children together you can apply to the

Child Support Agency for child support payments and to a court for various

other types of financial help relating to your child. Again we can advise you in

relation to these issues.   

Next of kin status

If your partner is ill or dies you may not be considered as their next of kin for

medical purposes unless you and your partner have previously made a

written agreement. Again we can provide you with advice.    

Banking

If you and your partner have separate bank accounts you can have access to

the money in your partners account. Thus, if he or she dies the money in

their account will become part of their estate and you may not therefore

automatically inherit the money unless they have made provision for this in

their will assuming they have done one.   

Tax Status

You and your partner will not have the same tax benefits as  married couples

or civil partners especially relating to capital gains tax and inheritance tax. 

Unlike married couples and civil partners you may have to pay tax if you

want to give major assets to your partner.   

Pension Schemes

If you or your partner dies your state pension is not automatically past onto

your partner.    Different rules apply to company and private pensions and it

is best to look at these carefully with your solicitor to see exactly what level

of pension you and your partner have.    

Making a will

A will is a useful way of setting out what property and assets belong to you

as opposed to your partner. Unless you make a will your partner will have no

automatic right to a share of your assets if you die so it is essential to have

one if you want your partner or the children to inherit.   

Co-habitation contracts 

These set out in advance what each member of the relationship expect of

the other both during the relationship and if they separate or one of them

dies. Technically some of the clauses may not be enforced by the courts but

they may limit disagreements, have evidential value and provide the

foundation for a relationship. However, before signing such an agreement

both you and your partner should seek independent legal advice.   

Breakdown of the relationship

In many cases partners do not seek legal advice until there is a disagreement

or the relationship breaks down or a partner dies.    Clearly it is difficult to

resolve matters at this point. Nevertheless we will advise you as to the best

way of proceeding and protecting your interests.  We can advise you in

relation to such matters and this may especially be helpful in relation to any

issues relating to the children from the relationship.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require advice and assistance in

relation to these issues either by telephoning our offices, calling in or e-

mailing us.

Austin Ryder and Co is there to help you. 

Austin Ryder © 2009-2014 - authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority SRA website www.sra.org.uk    European Commission platform for Consumer Disputes http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/odr/  -  Vat No 232782366 - Partners List available at the Head Office