There are several factors to bear in mind when cohabiting with your partner, as you are not married or in a civil partnership legal issues can arise later. Such as:
- If one of them had already bought their home when the other moved in, no matter how many years have passed, how can their partner claim a share if they want to move out?
- If one partner put their career on hold for their family life, foregoing earning power, promotion, and pension, how will they gain recognition for their sacrifice and be compensated for it?
- If one needs to move out and set up home elsewhere, how can they make the other share resources owned individually?
What options do you have when you are living together?
When there is no marriage or civil partnership, there is no legal obligations to fill the gaps. But there are ways for a couple to create their own ‘blanket of rights’.
This could be done either narrowly, just to cover a specific asset, or more broadly, to create a conclusive record of what they would want if they were separated - whether in life or in death - or if their circumstances changed beyond recognition. There are examples of these above. Others include making a cohabitation agreement (broad), or a declaration of trust (narrow).
More inventive and more tailored agreements can be drawn up where property is involved which can include: a right of residence, a licence, a lease-back, a deed of trust, a charge. Each is tailored to the couple’s image of how much in life they want to provide for and how much they are willing to leave to chance.
Couples who ‘just’ live together must avoid staying silent and avoiding the subject, simply putting things off are not practical options for cohabiting couples.
Completing any of the formal steps mentioned here is one that helps to fill the legal gap making couples who live together just as equal to those who are married or in a civil partnership. Each step is a recognition that peace of mind, and peace in relationships for the long term, it is helped usually by open conversations and by the humble human act of providing for every eventuality.