Moving in with a partner is an exciting time, but it’s also important to think about where you stand from a legal perspective.
When you’re not married to the partner you’re living with, it’s wise to consider how the lack of legal protection could affect your finances and other assets.
If you are living with someone who you’re in a relationship with, but are not married to, it is known as cohabitating.
To find out more about cohabitating and what it might mean for your relationship, keep reading.
What is cohabitation?
Cohabitation is a term that is used to describe couples who are unmarried but are in a relationship and living together.
Normally these couples will have fewer legal rights than couples who are married or in a civil partnership which means there’s limited legal protection if the relationship breaks down or one partner dies.
What is a cohabitation agreement?
A cohabitation agreement is a legally binding document that unmarried couples who are living together can apply for.
This document sets out what will happen to your finances, house, and any minor children if you separate, or if one partner becomes ill or dies.
It’s an important document for cohabitating couples to obtain as without one, you will not have much legal protection if your circumstances change.
How can I prove cohabitation in the UK?
To get a cohabitation agreement, you and your partner will need to prove that you are cohabitating.
Evidence you can show to demonstrate this includes joint leases, letters that are addressed to both individuals, and joint utility bills such as gas, electricity or water.
What are my rights when I’m cohabiting?
You will only have legal rights as a cohabitating couple when you have a cohabitation agreement drawn up.
Without a cohabitation agreement in place, you won’t have any right to your partner’s assets if you separate and will not be entitled to anything in the event of their death.
Once you have this agreement, you could both have access to each other’s state pension, next of kin rights in emergencies and a share of each other’s assets if you decide to separate.
How do I get a cohabitation agreement?
Before drawing up an agreement, you and your partner should talk about what you think should be included and what assets should be divided between the two of you. Assets that you share could include your pensions, savings, and any jointly owned property or vehicles.
National Legal Service’s team of specialist family solicitors will work with you to draw up the agreement. This will include calculating the value of your assets, whether you have children and detailing how much each of you earns.
Once the agreement has been drafted, and you’re both happy with its contents, each of you will need to sign it.
If anything changes in your circumstances after you’ve signed the cohabitation agreement, you can contact your solicitor to make any changes – as long as both parties agree to the changes being made.