Moving in with your partner is an exciting time and it is very easy to get caught up in the happiness of making a new home together and overlook your legal entitlements should the relationship not work out.

If you are moving into a home already owned by one party it is worth considering the equity already built up on the property, who is responsible for mortgage payments, whose names appear on the mortgage and deeds, along with a plan for if the relationship was to break down.

A ‘cohabitation agreement’ is an ideal fir for a couple moving in together, where one of them already owns the property and does not wish the other to acquire an interest in the property at this time. Although this might not be the ideal conversation to have when you are first moving someone in, it does demonstrate a level of maturity to the relationship to be able to talk about these things at the outset and, it is an effective way to protect yourself and your partner and is becoming more and more popular.

If you are buying your first property together it is sensible to talk to your solicitor about how you wish to co-own the property.  Alongside that, it may be wise to put in place a written agreement about the property ownership arrangements.

A ‘declaration of trust’ or ‘deed of trust’ is used where a couple are buying a property and one of you will be making a bigger financial contribution to the property. I.e. you have invested a large deposit, a gift from parents, or will be paying more towards the monthly repayments on the mortgage.

If you are planning to get married it is worthwhile considering how your legal obligations to each other will change afterwards. Our clients are increasingly looking to prepare pre-marriage agreements to give them more certainty on their rights and obligations if the marriage was to break down. Pre-Nuptial agreements, or ‘pre-nups’, are no longer reserved for the rich and famous and are a very useful tool for setting out your wishes and retaining control should the un-planned for occur. The level of protection they offer can be far-reaching because they address all of your assets, not just property. There is no need for animosity when putting an agreement together and it can actually help strengthen a relationship as both of you have clarity on where you stand.

These types of agreements are common place in the US, South Africa and continental Europe and are increasingly becoming more popular in the UK. Many first-time-buyers in the UK are relying on their parents to get a foot on the property ladder and are generally becoming more cautious about future financial security. The courts are showing greater willingness to uphold these types of agreements and give weight to couple’s written intentions.

It is important to take advice on which type of agreement is best suited to your circumstances and that’s where we can help.For advice please do not hesitate to contact Rob Parker, Head of our Family Law Team on 01256 844888 or email enquiries@lambbrooks.com

"“Excellent professional service from all staff at Lamb Brooks. From booking appointment all the way through to follow up. Rob Parker was very helpful considerate and professional in his approach and solution in a helping me with a family matter. Very much recommend their service”"

Mr F, Reading

Key Contacts

Rob Parker

Partner & Head of Family Law Team

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