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Cohabiting couples – have parents helped with a deposit for your home?

Moving in together is an exciting time and couples are often caught up in the whirlwind of romance and playing ‘house’ without thinking about the financial implications for their future should the relationship breakdown.

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More and more couples are moving in together before marriage and an increasing number of these couples are relying on parental support from one side to help them get on to the property ladder, with a recent report showing that a quarter of prospective first-time buyers planned to use the Bank of Mum and Dad to help fund their deposit.

Whilst this is a great way for many young couples to get their first home, they need to ensure that this allowance is accounted for, should the couple split up in the future.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a ‘common law marriage’ in Scotland. Therefore living together (or in legal terms “cohabitating” with someone) does not entitle you to the same legal rights as married couples. However even if the property is owned in one person's sole name this does not prevent the other person from being able to gain a financial interest in the property.

It is therefore vital that a cohabitation agreement is drawn up stating areas such as who contributed to the deposit for the property. 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. It deals with a number of areas such as who owns what at the start of the relationship, financial arrangements during the relationship and how property and assets should be divided if the relationship ends. This is particularly important should one party (or their family) be contributing more to the purchase of a home than the other.

With over 3 million unmarried couples living together in the UK, and separation rates on the rise, a cohabitation agreement is a wise investment, especially if you compare this to the potential costs you could face if you do separate and there is a dispute.

Get in touch with Jones Whyte family law specialists for advice in this area.

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