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Cohabitation: He put a ring on it – now make sure you put a signature on it

02 December 2019 Family Law Stuart Hunter

Moving in with your partner is an exciting time. From finding a property to setting up IKEA furniture, the future is looking bright and you can easily be forgiven for getting caught up in the whirlwind of romance.

For many couples today, cohabiting is commonplace, either before or instead of traditional marriage. However, what many of these couples don’t appreciate is that cohabiting could have major consequences if the relationship ends, with the possibility of a financial claim if you don’t have an agreement in place.

In Scotland there is a popular misconception that couples who live together are protected should the relationship break down, however there is no such thing as common law marriage in Scotland. Therefore, if a non-married and cohabiting couple split up, one of them could face financial hardship if they don’t have a cohabitation agreement in place.

A cohabitation agreement is a form of legal agreement reached between an unmarried couple who have chosen to live together, in order to protect their interests. The agreement is important and can protect both parties, whether any property is jointly or singly owned. Finances are never straightforward, as often one person has paid a bigger deposit, or the other one contributes to bills or renovations without actually having their name on the mortgage. This can lead to non-owners potentially having a financial claim, so it is vital both parties have a cohabitation agreement in place.

At Macnabs we are seeing an increasing number of couples living together who are not married or in a civil partnership and, unfortunately, this situation can prove complicated, so make sure you have an agreement in place before you start building those flat-packs!

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