Due to stringent measures put in place in an effort to restrict the spread of coronavirus, lots of couples found themselves in the unusual situation of having to choose whether to move in together or remain apart entirely for the duration of the lockdown.
The lockdown was announced with very short notice and as a result some people have chosen to remain in a home that is not their usual place of residence. This has led to quite unprecedented legal issues arising. For example, where couples have perhaps rushed the decision to move in together, are they now worrying about the legal implications of this?
The shock announcement that couples who did not live together would not be able to spend any time together was clarified by Jenny Harries, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, during a press conference the day after the lockdown was announced. She confirmed that if couples did not want to remain separated for the duration of the lockdown then ‘the alternative might be that, for quite a significant period going forwards, they should test the strength of their relationship’ by living together for the first time.
Perhaps you have moved into your partner’s property, or alternatively they have moved into your property? This may have been something that you were considering anyway and is hopefully a natural and happy progression, but this may have meant that you have had little or no time to plan or to discuss how your cohabitation might work in practice. Often, before taking the significant step of deciding to live together couples will consider the implications of this relationship progression. “How will we share the financial responsibilities of life together?” Or perhaps, “Will my partner acquire a financial interest in my property?”
It is always advisable to set out your intentions at the commencement of cohabitation. We are able to prepare a Cohabitation Agreement that can set the financial parameters of your ongoing relationship, in order to provide protection, security, and clarity for both parties. It is so important that there is complete understanding as to how the financial relationship will work. Whilst cohabitation is not a financial contract akin to marriage, cohabitees can sometimes acquire an entitlement to property that was unintended by the other party, or can be left without any entitlement despite having made what they consider to be very valuable contributions to the relationship. It is so important to be well advised of your legal rights when entering into this type of living arrangement.
You may have been cohabiting for years and still not be clear as to your legal rights and responsibilities. We are often asked to provide advice to parents who have lived together, raising children and sharing their life together for years, and they are perhaps shocked to find when their relationship breaks down that there is no such thing as common law marriage. One party can be left with no financial entitlement to a property that they may have occupied for a long time throughout the relationship. They can be left in a situation where they are having to rehome themselves and the children with very little financial support. These situations can be avoided by individuals being made aware of the financial considerations that could, or should, be made at the very start of cohabitation.
At Foort Tayler we are here to help you to understand your legal rights and to make the right choices so that you can move forward with a feeling of happiness and security. We offer a free initial appointment and we are able to conduct remote appointments by way of telephone or video call during this unprecedented time.
Call us today on 01371 875200 if you wish to make an initial appointment.