Making the decision to move in together is a big step in your relationship, a time for celebration and making plans for the future. But does your legal position change? Things to consider before you move in together from Baines Bagguley Penhale Solicitors.
Thinking carefully about how your relationship will be affected, making decisions and talking about how you will deal with some of the issues that can arise when you move in together, can make this transition easier. Our experienced Family Lawyers at BBP Solicitors have put together a few points to consider before moving in :-
Who is going to pay and what for?
If you are going to buy a property work out how the deposit is being paid and what will happen if you split up, for example will each of you get back what you put in or are you going to share equally regardless of who contributed the most?
Discuss and agree who is going to pay the mortgage, if it is not going to be paid equally you need to be clear about whether you both own the property equally or whether your ownership is directly related to the amount contributed towards the mortgage and deposit;
Day to day finances can also be a difficult topic to broach, but if you decide up front who is going to be responsible for which bills, and both stick to that arrangement this can help to avoid disagreements and issues arising.
Bank Accounts – it is important to decide whether you are going to open a joint bank account, and if so how much each of you are going to contribute and which bills are to come out of that account. Once a joint bank account is opened all money paid into that account is viewed as belonging to you both equally. Likewise if there is to be a joint savings account you should carefully discuss and agree who is paying how much into that account. If you were to both own the individual amounts that you have paid into the savings account then you should put this agreement in writing.
Buying on Credit – It can be tempting when you first move in together to furnish the home using credit that may be available to you both. There is no issue with using credit, but if one of you has credit cards and the other doesn’t, be wary of one person taking responsibility for all payments. Loans and credit cards are usually the responsibility of the person who has taken them out, regardless of whether the purchase is for joint benefit. Again, if one person is using credit to purchase items that are for the joint benefit of both parties, you should discuss and agree whether you are both to be liable to pay that debt and if you are this should be recorded in writing.
Household items – Similarly it is important to be clear about who owns what in the house should you separate. For any items that are bought jointly, it can be difficult to decide who should retain which item if the relationship breaks down or if either of you dies. Agreeing how the contents would be divided, or that any jointly purchased item should be sold or should be valued and the other party receive half of the value, is an important decision to make before making any substantial joint purchases. Any such agreement should be recorded in writing.
Consider making a Will. Cohabitees who have lived together for over two years can claim against the estate of their deceased partner, but this can leave your loved ones in the difficult situation of having to argue over how your estate should be divided. If both parties make a Will you can agree the arrangements you want to make for each other and if appropriate for others.
Moving in together is a big change and whilst it can be exciting, it can also be stressful. Failing to take the time to discuss and agree some basic ground rules before taking that step can put unnecessary pressure on a relationship.
At Baines Bagguley Penhale our experienced family lawyers regularly advise and assist our clients in relation to reaching agreements regarding cohabitation, and agreeing and preparing legal documentation to minimise the potential for disputes in future.
As with most things in life, taking the time to make sure the foundations are in place can save a lot of dispute and heartache in the future.
For further advice please contact our family lawyers Nicola Codd and Barbara Richardson. 01524 401010