We understand that moving in with a partner can be one of the most exciting times in your life. There is often so much to look forward to that it is sometimes easy to forget that there may also be difficult times ahead. Unmarried partners often assume they enjoy the same legal rights as married couples but that is not the case.
If you are considering living with a partner, even if you have been together for many years, we can provide you with the legal advice and support you require to secure your relationship and protect your interests.
If you and a partner are thinking about living together – what is legally termed ‘cohabitation’ – it is crucial that you obtain preventative legal advice at the outset as the law does not provide the same protections or legal remedies for cohabiting partners as it does married couples.
Unlike married couples, simply living with your partner does not give one an interest in the other’s property. However, you may still have entitlements based on your contributions or on written or oral agreements between you both. In the event of a dispute, the Court will have to determine whether you should continue to occupy the property and what, if any, interest you have in it.
If your relationship breaks down, unlike married couples, neither of you has a right to claim ongoing financial help from the other, even if you’ve lived together for many years. However, if you have children, in the absence of an agreement, the absent parent will be required to make regular maintenance payments under the Child Support Act. Further financial help may be available by way of an application to the Court.
If you and your partner decide to move in together, we can help prepare a cohabitation agreement that covers financial arrangements and how assets are to be divided if your relationship breaks down. This is particularly important if you have children.
None of us knows what will happen in the future. As such, it is always advisable to protect yourself and your family by making a will. In the event that your partner passes away, it does not automatically follow that their assets will pass to you. If you are in this situation and in doubt as to your legal position, please contact a member of the team for further information.