Moving in with your partner can be an exciting experience. It can bring an end to lugging your belongings back and forth between your home and your partner’s place, while it ought to guarantee more time to enjoy each other’s company. It is a romantic journey into the future together.
The reality, however, can be somewhat more mundane. You’ll have to agree how to share bills such as the rent or mortgage. You’ll need to agree how to split the cooking and domestic chores. You’ll get to see a different side to your partner. Chances are you’ll both annoy each other on occasion.
Only 4% of cohabiting couples stick it for more than a decade, so it is a good idea to approach moving in together with your eyes wide open to the potential pitfalls. This way you can try to avoid the mistakes that 96% of cohabiting couples make.
Common law marriage
One of the first mistakes that many couples make is to assume that they will eventually be classed as common law spouses and enjoy the same rights as those who have married or entered into a civil partnership. This is a myth. If you split up or one of you dies, the other will have no automatic right to any of his partner’s assets. He may not have the benefit of any pension or life assurance arrangements either.
This is especially important if you have children. Whilst unmarried dads are required to pay maintenance, they do not have the same custodial rights of their children as mothers, unless they have Parental Responsibility. Unmarried mothers have no right to their partner’s home; although, they may have some protection until their children reach 18.
When moving in together it is, therefore, vital to ensure you have some financial security. If you move into your partner’s rented home, you will have no right to stay there if you split up unless you are added to the rental agreement as a joint tenant. On the other hand, if you are added as a joint tenant, you could be responsible for 100% of the rent if your partner leaves.
If you purchase property together, you will need to agree how much each person will contribute, both to the deposit and mortgage payments. You will also need to decide whether you want to jointly own the property or be tenants in common. Joint ownership provides a greater degree of protection if one person dies. If you split up, however, you might end up feeling hard done by if you have paid a lot more into the house than your partner.
You will also need to decide how to split the running costs of your home. Who will pay for food, bills and insurance? Will you each take responsibility for certain costs or open a joint account for this purpose?
For many couples, a co-habitation agreement can be a helpful way of working out how the financial aspect of a relationship. As well as setting out what will happen to existing assets, it sets out what will happen in the event that you do split up. Planning ahead should result in less heartache later. It seems that when it comes to moving in together the best way to give your relationship a chance may be to prepare for the worst.
Written by Hughes Carlisle’s team of Liverpool solicitors, they are looking to discuss topical matters on a range of subjects which capture people’s interest, while offering advice and support whenever required.