After financial matters were resolved and Decree Absolute was pronounced, Jamie said, with feeling “That’s it, I’m never going to trust a woman again.”

I had to smile to myself, I’d heard this before and it’s quite natural after a hard-fought case.  So, when around ten months later he booked another appointment with me, I could guess what might be on his mind.

He sat down across the desk from me and said, with a somewhat sheepish smile “I know I said I didn’t want anything to do with women, but I’ve met someone and we’ve been talking about moving in together.  I’m just worried that I’m setting myself up for the same thing all over again.”

In short, Jamie’s ex-wife had retained their family home as they had a two-year old daughter and they’d owned the home jointly.  However, he had a good job and had managed to get a one-bed flat, so he was paying two mortgages.

“If my girlfriend moves in, will she be able to claim a share of my flat, if we split up?” he asked.

Susie, his girlfriend, had offered to pay towards all the household costs, which seemed fair, but Jamie was worried that would constitute paying part of the mortgage and give her a right to a share of the property.

After a few questions I discovered that Susie had offered to sign something to waive her claim on the property, but Jamie wasn’t sure if this was the right thing to do.

It can be difficult to bring up a co-habitation agreement or a pre-nuptial agreement when the relationship is in that ‘forever, together’ phase, so the fact that Susie was willing was a step in the right direction.

We discussed whether Jamie was planning to co-habit or actually moving towards remarriage.  He assured me that, at present, moving in was a big enough step to contemplate and so we explored all the issues that he – and Susie – would need to consider.  These included:

  • The property and its ownership
  • Joint possessions – who gets what
  • What would happen if Jamie sold his flat and they bought a home in common – but with a bigger chunk put in by him. If they should separate who would buy who out.
  • If Susie’s parents contributed a lump sum towards a future home, how that would affect the situation if they should separate at some point in the future
  • How their joint finances would be managed, bank accounts and credit cards and any subsequent debts either of them might acquire
  • If they purchased a shared vehicle who would pay for what and how it would feature as an asset in their relationship.

A Cohabitation Agreement gives both partners clarity about their relationship and what would happen if they eventually separate.

Jamie went away to discuss this with Susie and I’m looking forward to seeing them both when they’ve agreed what they want so we can create the Cohabitation Agreement that will set both their minds at rest.