Personal Law

Things to legally consider when you’re moving in together

December 2, 2020

For many couples, the Stamp Duty Holiday has been a welcome push to finally get on the housing ladder, but for unmarried couples, alongside using a solicitor for conveyancing, it’s also worthwhile considering drawing up a cohabitation agreement.


A cohabitation agreement sets out the contributions that each person within a couple makes towards ownership of property. This can include acknowledgement of deposit amounts and mortgage contributions, but also considers contributions towards childcare and maintenance costs. While preparing for a potential separation doesn’t sound like the most positive of ways to start on the next stage of your life together, it also allows you to ensure that your interests are safeguarded should the worst happen.


Drawing up a cohabitation agreement isn’t solely restricted to couples purchasing a home together. They are also just as important if you are moving in with a partner who already owns a property where you will be contributing to the upkeep of the property or towards the mortgage.


What happens if you split up without a cohabitation agreement?


The first things to remember is that there is no-such thing as a common-law spouse and that when unmarried couples who own property together decide to split without a cohabitation agreement in place, they essentially create a potential dispute over property ownership.


In property ownership disputes, The Trusts of Lands and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (ToLATA) provides the Court with powers to split and distribute property. This means that they can issue claims in the following instances:

  • To force the sale of land or property
  • To reoccupy a family home when an ex-partner is refusing to vacate it
  • By parents and elder relatives who may have invested capital into the home in the form of a gifted deposit
  • To determine the share that each party owns.


Additionally, under ToLATA the Court can also order the sale of property enabling an owner to realise their interest in it, decide who can occupy a property, and decide the nature and extent of peoples’ ownership of a property.


Put into the most basic of terms, Court involvement can be costly, time consuming, and acrimonious, potentially pulling in other members of each person’s families. A much gentler and calmer alternative is to mutually agree how you will treat and split the property you own together by drawing up a Cohabitation Agreement.


Our team are available for both conveyancing services and cohabitation agreement writing and are able to schedule face to face or virtual meetings. Get in touch on enquiries@jarmans-solicitors.co.uk or call 01795 472291