Cohabitation: Your Questions Answered (FAQ's)

  1. The father of my child is very wealthy but he has told me that he doesn't have to pay anything because we were not married. Is he right?

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    No. As well as child maintenance payable in accordance with the Child Maintenance Service scheme (the successor of the Child Support Agency), a parent may be ordered by the court to provide additional financial support. This can include ‘top up’ maintenance where gross annual income exceeds £156,000, the payment of school fees, provision of a home for the child and their main carer to live in while the child is dependent, and provision of other items such as a car and furniture for the home. The amount and type of provision will depend very much on your individual circumstances and those of your former partner.

  2. Me and my partner are buying a house together but are putting in different amounts for the deposit. How can we make sure this is reflected when we sell the house?

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    The best way to ensure this is to enter into a written document before the purchase goes through, which sets out in clear terms how the proceeds are to be divided. This could be something as simple as saying that person A is entitled to, say, 45% of the net proceeds of sale and person B is entitled to the remaining 55%. Alternatively, you may have agreed that one of you will have the first £20,000 and the balance will be divided equally. There are very many possibilities. Having a written document should take away the uncertainty that can arise in the event of the relationship breaking down in future.

  3. What is a cohabitation agreement?

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    This is a legal document entered into by two people who either are or are about to start living together that sets out their respective financial obligations to each other. It will usually deal with what would happen, in financial terms, if they separate. A cohabitation agreement, if properly put together, is legally binding. The agreement might deal with how much each will contribute towards household expenses, clarify the ownership of expensive items such as cars or jewellery and set out how a shared property would be dealt with in the event of separation. The aim is to reduce the uncertainty that can often result when couples sharing a home decide to go their separate ways.

  4. I live in my partner's home but it is in her sole name. Do I have any rights?

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    This is potentially a very complicated situation. It is possible for a person who is not the legal owner of a property but has nevertheless made certain types of contribution towards it to acquire a financial interest in it. If a cohabiting relationship breaks down and the parties’ respective rights and interests have not been spelt out in advance, there can be a very high level of uncertainty and, in some cases, expensive litigation can follow. You can reduce this uncertainty by signing up to a cohabitation agreement.

  5. My partner and I are splitting up. He doesn't want to sell our house and refuses to discuss buying me out. Can you help me?

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    Yes. The majority of disputes of this nature can be dealt with by negotiation, without the need for court proceedings. However, in a small minority of cases the only way to break the deadlock is to make an application to the court to order the sale of a disputed property and make a ruling as to how the proceeds are to be divided. This is very much a last resort but the option is there to make sure this type of situation does not carry indefinitely.

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