My partner is about to move in with me. I own the house, but she will be paying half of the mortgage and bills. Is there any paperwork we should ask a solicitor to draw up to formalise our new living arrangement?
Moving in with your partner is an exciting time, but if you want to be sensible you need to think about what will happen to your finances if your relationship breaks down.
This may seem like a strange thing to be thinking about, but it’s very important because if you’re living together, and you’re not married, the law offers you very little protection with regards to your investment.
Whether or not the property is in your name, it’s likely that you’ll be making a significant contribution, and you need to ensure your investment is properly protected.
For example, if you break up will either of you stay in the property? If you move out, how will you get back the money you have put into your home? Or if you sell up, how will you divide any profit that you make? Will you get back your initial investment in the property before any equity is divided?
These are all things that you should figure out before you move in together. Hopefully, you’ll never need to act on these decisions, but you never know what the future will hold.
Once you’ve decided how you would split your finances, you can formally record your arrangement in a Couple’s Agreement. You will benefit from a Couple’s Agreement if:
- you’re in a relationship;
- you’re co-habiting (meaning you are living together but you’re not married);
- you own part or all of the property; and
- you’re paying towards the property in some way.
Also known as a Co-habitation Agreement, a Couple’s Agreement allows you to set out what should happen to your property, money and possessions if you were to split up. This can be extremely useful if you’re buying a property, either in your sole name or your joint names, or you entered into the relationship having already bought a property.
If your relationship does break down, you will have already planned what should happen. This will make things much more straightforward, reducing disagreements and delays – both of which can prove costly.
This can also help to limit the stress associated with a break-up. It means you can rest assured the fi nancial arrangements are in hand, giving you the space to focus on your own health and well-being.
It’s also a lot easier to make these kinds of decisions now, while your relationship is still amicable, as you’re more likely to come to an arrangement that’s fair and reasonable.
Moneywise says: There are templates for Co-habitation Agreements available online, but it’s better to take legal advice separately per person about this and have the agreement drafted for you by a solicitor.
Tracey Maloney is head of family law at Co-op Legal Services