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  • Quinn Barrow

Cohabitation - Your Rights


cohabitation

Living together without being married or being in a civil partnership means you do not have many rights around finances, property and children. Consider making a will and getting a cohabitation agreement to protect your interests.


Renting a home together

When both your names are on the tenancy agreement, you are equally responsible for the rent and any other tenancy conditions.


If you split up and one of you wants to move out, you will need to talk to your landlord or lettings agency to change the tenancy agreement.


Buying property together

You could be joint tenants, where you own the whole property together, or tenants in common, where you each own a share in the property.  We can provide further information on these terms during the course of the transaction.


If one person owns the property

You will not usually have any rights to the property if you don’t own the property or a share in it, unless you can prove you have:

  • contributed to the deposit for the house or the mortgage payments, or

  • made a financial commitment, like paying for major work on the house, with the understanding that you would own a share of the house


This means if you split up and you are not the owner you have no right to continue living in the property. And unless it’s left to you in their will, you won’t automatically inherit the property if your partner dies.


If you agree that you should both have a share in the property, you can transfer the property into a joint tenancy or the property can be held in one party’s name but in trust for both parties.  This is a fairly complex area of law but we can help you with this. 


Children

The father only has parental responsibility if the parties are married, or they are on the child’s birth certificate. Parental responsibility means they have a say in decisions about the child.


Child support if you split up

You have a legal obligation to provide child support if you split up. This applies even if you do not have parental responsibility. You can apply to the Child Support Agency for payments and a court can order the parent to pay.


Child or children from another relationship

If your partner has a child or children from another relationship, you do not automatically have parental responsibility for them.


Medical emergencies and death

You will not be treated as next of kin if your partner becomes ill unless you and your partner have made a written agreement beforehand. This means you will not have automatic rights to know about their condition, or see them in hospital. You will not be able to plan their care, unless they have agreed this in writing.


If you die, because your partner is not your next of kin, they will not have the right to make arrangements.


Bank accounts

If you die and you have separate bank accounts, your partner will not be legally able to access your account. Find out more on the Money Advice Service website.


Pension access

If you die, your state pension is not automatically passed on to your partner. Different rules apply to company and private pensions.


Tax benefits

You and your partner do not have tax benefits as a couple.

If you want to give assets, like a house or a large amount of money, to your partner you may have to pay tax.


Cohabitation agreements and wills

To make sure you and your partner’s interests are protected, you may want to consider getting a cohabitation agreement and making a will.


Without a will your partner and their children will not automatically inherit from you. They will only be able to make a claim through court if:

  • you have been living together for 2 or more years, or

  • they were financially supported by you


We are happy to assist with cohabitation agreements and wills advice and drafting.


What an agreement can cover:

  • rent, mortgage or household bills

  • finances, for example joint bank accounts or pensions

  • property and assets – owned before or bought while living together

  • arrangements for children

  • next of kin rights


Pension access, property title deeds and wills are also important areas you should consider alongside a cohabitation agreement.

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