Calling all Cohabitants – Know your property rights on separation!
Part of our goal at Rooney Family Law is to provide information for couples who are not married as there is a general lack of awareness of your legal rights as a Cohabitant (You do not get marriage by cohabitation anymore).
One particular issue that you may face relates to your rights regarding jointly owned property if you separate from your Cohabitant. Did you know that you have no legal right (in the absence of the consent of the other person) to seek the transfer of the property into your sole name? The applicable legislation only permits you to seek certain orders, and a property transfer is not one of them, even if you have children. Property transfers are, however, available to spouses.
This means that either Cohabitant can force the sale of the property and there is very little that the other person can do about it (aside from making other types of financial claims under the Cohabitation Law). This can be particularly unfair if one of you has a sentimental attachment to the property or there are children who attend local school etc.
The only legal way to protect yourself is by entering into a Cohabitation Agreement. You can do this before or after moving in together and/or purchasing a property. The Cohabitation Agreement can be created in a way which affords either of you the opportunity to transfer the property into your name within a certain timeframe after separation. It can also cover a wide range of other matters which will provide you with legal certainty should the worse happen in the future.
Whilst it may be a difficult issue to discuss between you, the legal framework currently in place offers you limited options if you separate. Please contact us if you would like more information.