Cohabiting Explained

Wednesday 4th March 2015

Marsden Rawsthorn is a dynamic, innovative and modern law firm, based in Fulwood and Buckshaw Village.
Ambitious and forward thinking, their experienced lawyers and dedicated support team work with clients to fully understand their legal needs, simplify the complexity of their legal issues and find the most practical, cost effective and common sense legal solutions. When it comes to property ownership and cohabiting, they offer a personal approach, which is designed to alleviate stress.


My partner and I want to buy a house together, but we’re not married. What do we need to consider?


If contributing unequally to the purchase price, it would be advisable to seek a declaration of trust to safeguard their respective beneficial interest in the property.
It is also advisable to enter into a cohabitation agreement to ensure that all parties are clear of their respective obligations during the relationship.

What should a cohabitation agreement cover?


It provides a clear detail of each party’s obligations during the relationship. It can also cover issues surrounding how division of equity in the property should take place in the event of a separation. If children are involved or one party predeceases the other then such issues can be addressed under specialist legal provisions. 

What if we live in a rented property?


This will depend on the terms of the tenancy agreement. However under the Family Law Act there are remedies available to safeguard rights of occupation on the breakdown of a relationship or marriage. 

Is the legal position on cohabitation likely to change?

Every situation is an evolving one and depending on circumstances during cohabitation there is likely to be alternative legal remedies available to the parties.

Who will keep the property if we split?

This could be addressed by the terms of the cohabitation agreement that may have been entered into. In the absence of an agreement either party can apply to the court for an order for sale. The respective parties may wish to consider purchasing the other’s share of the equity, but this will be subject to the existing mortgage lender’s consent or alternatively by obtaining a re-mortgage. Alternatively the parties can be referred to mediation to resolve any dispute that arises as a result of their separation.

Is this the same in a divorce?

Division of property and other assets will be divided in accordance with prescribed criteria under the divorce law provisions for married people, taking into account factors such as ages of the parties, relevant children, contributions by the respective parties, illnesses or disabilities, duration of marriage, capital and income needs of the parties, and conduct of the parties. 

Author: Sahida Ahmed

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