Moving in Together

7th Oct 2015

A successful first date leads to a new relationship, love grows and the happy couple move in together. In these exciting days no one gives any thought to the possibility that the relationship will break down.

‘We will be different’ you think, and perhaps you will but well over half of all couples who move in together will break up, many within the first 5 years.

The emotional wreckage of a failed relationship is hard enough to deal with. It is much, much worse if there is also a falling out over the finances. In the emotional upheaval of a break-up many reasonable people behave badly. Promises lightly made are tossed aside and it can quickly become clear that both parties think very differently about what should happen to their money.

Unfortunately most cohabiting couples have no idea what their rights are. People often assume that they will be in the same position as a married couple particularly if they have been together for many years. This is simply untrue and as a result many cohabitees find themselves in difficult financial circumstances that could have been easily avoided.

Without clear written evidence of what both parties intended and agreed between themselves a cohabiting couple have no straightforward law to confirm what should happen to their finances on separation. Instead complex arguments about trust law have to be relied upon. These are tricky in law, complex to argue and expensive to sort out. They are also completely unnecessary.

With just a little forward planning it is possible to protect the position of both parties and to avoid messy arguments on separation. A simple written agreement made with legal advice can ensure that in the unhappy event of a separation property is protected and both parties living arrangements can be sorted with a minimum of fuss.

Such a written agreement, or ‘cohabitation contract’ can protect the assets of the wealthier party but it can also ensure that a poorer party does not find themselves penniless after a long relationship simply because they are not a legal owner of any assets.

Moving in together is a big step for many reasons. It is always worth investigating your rights and taking legal advice to ensure that you are protected for the future. At Gales we have been handling disputes between cohabitees for many years. We have represented men trying to protect their houses, women trying to keep a roof over their heads and those just trying to look after the children. Every one of these disputes could have been made simpler and less painful if the parties had made a cohabitation contract at the beginning of their relationship.

If you are moving in with someone take advice to ensure future peace of mind.