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New Year, New Beginnings

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As January comes around each year, it is a time when people take stock of their lives and work out what changes they might implement for a happier 2020. There are of course New Year’s Resolutions which may challenge you to try something new, but for some January brings the clarity you need to end a relationship and take first steps towards a new future. Alternatively, you may have asked your partner to move in with you or get married.

Moving in with a partner or getting married is an extremely exciting time, but it is sensible to think about the practical arrangements beforehand. How will outgoings be paid? Will you have joint accounts? Who will own the home and, if jointly, what share will each of you have? There may be considerations such as other properties, savings, debts, income, pensions and inheritances, which may be relevant. You may also need to agree specific arrangements for any children. How will all of this work during the relationship and what would happen if you were to separate?

Many people do not realise that if you are not married you will not acquire financial rights against your partner. Common law marriage does not exist and so if you separate, one person could be left with absolutely nothing. There is no point whereby cohabitees become anything more than cohabitees unless they get married or enter into a Civil Partnership. This is the case regardless of how long you may have been together, even if you have children. There are separate, complex, rules that relate to property and while sometimes a person may acquire rights to property even if it is not in their name, this is rarely straightforward to untangle if a relationship breaks down. 

If you are married, then you and your spouse will have financial claims against each other which, in principle, could extend to any and all assets. Exactly how this would work in practice depends on the circumstances at the time of divorce. 

Although this may seem unromantic, some advance planning can make sure that you and your partner are on the same page. This can reduce the opportunity for conflict and means that if the relationship were to end, you each know what to expect and there are no unpleasant surprises. A Cohabitation Agreement for unmarried couples and a Pre-Nuptial Agreement for married couples can protect your interests both during and after a relationship. 

Please contact us for more information

Family Law Associates

1 The Courtyard, Lyntoin Road N8 8SL

020 8342 7760



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