10 May 2017

A Lawyer’s Guide to the Legal Side of Moving in Together

Remember when I spoke about Moving in together after a long distance relationship? Well moving in together is a big step in any relationship, not to mention an exciting one. Your place or mine? Or a new place altogether? Whose things to keep, or if things aren’t being kept, do you donate them? Or put them in storage? How invested are you, exactly? It’s easy to get caught up in these questions without thinking about the more serious side of things. If you’re thinking of moving in together, don’t just focus on the colour of the couch; make sure you head to a divorce solicitor in London and legally cover yourself against any eventuality.

Everything from a separation when there are shared assets but a difference in incomes, to one of you passing away (especially if you have step-children), needs to be considered and drawn out in a legally binding document. If you’re moving in together, here’s how to make sure that your back is covered in the event of any eventuality.

Don’t Want to Get Married? Cohabitation Agreements are the Way to Go

The number of couples who live together before marriage is on the up. In England and Wales, 80% of couples live together before marriage. Gone are the days when living in sin was frowned upon. Now, if anything, it’s encouraged. Getting a family lawyer in London to draw up a prenuptial agreement is no longer only for celebrities with wealth to spare; it’s common sense insurance.

Many couples, though, see living together not as the road to marriage, but as the final destination. According to a survey, only one in four couples who live together plan to tie the knot some day. This can leave them legally in the lurch, as there’s no legal safety net to fall into if anything happens. A cohabitation agreement drawn up by a divorce lawyer sidesteps a marriage certificate to give you at least some of the security against whatever the future throws at you.

What if There Are Kids Involved?

If you’re moving in with a partner who has children from an existing relationship, but you don’t plan to marry, it’s important to consider what you want your relationship to be with your step children in the eyes of the law. It’s not necessary to be married in order to adopt your partner’s child; you just need to apply for the appropriate order and be able to prove you’re in an existing, enduring relationship.

This can grant you parental responsibilities, vesting in you the rights of a natural born parent. In the event that anything happens to your partner, you won’t lose rights over the child with whom you’ve built up a parent-child style of relationship. Once again, this makes it important to have legal rights and responsibilities over property and possessions, too, which would normally pass automatically to the spouse in case of death, but may not without a formal marriage license.
A cohabitation agreement from a family lawyer in London or your local city that takes into account your parental care duties and expected duties in the event of a death is an important milestone in merging your two pre-existing family units.

How Does it Work For Same-Sex Couples?

In the dissolution of a marriage or a relationship between a heterosexual couple, the (misconceived) public perception is that the court tends to favour the woman when it comes to wealth distribution and maintenance payments. Heteronormative values still extant in society result in an assumption that maintenance payments are only from the man to the woman. In modern day society, though, the wife is increasingly the breadwinner and it’s not unheard of for maintenance payments to go the other way.

Civil partnerships in the UK came into existence in 2005, with same-sex marriages even newer still. Laws surrounding their creation and dissolution, therefore, are constantly in flux, developing and changing as we get closer to equality. The lack of the heteronormative model which affects divorce and separation as described above is naturally a roadblock in deciding on settlements, despite the crumbling assumption attached to how the finances of heterosexual marriages should be.

Cohabitation agreements are essential for any savvy same-sex couple considering moving in together. Things like debt, property, estate planning and any future children or dissolution settlement will all be taken care of by any divorce lawyer.

Avoid risking your future for the sake of a love that might not last and take out the insurance of a cohabitation agreement with your partner. Once the paper is signed and filed away, you can focus on the fun part of organising your new life and nesting together. Don’t forget to create the small print, rather than sweeping it under your new rug and saving it for later. You’ll both sleep easier at night in your new bed, safe in the security that you won’t be left without a roof over your head.
*This is a collaborative post
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