Lauren Harley
Associate Solicitor
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Date Published:06 Nov 2020 Last Updated:23 Oct 2021

Cohabitation during Covid-19: Living together in Lockdown

Family Law

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 31 October, the country is now in a state of ‘lockdown’ for the second time this year. With financial and criminal consequences in the event of a breach of the lockdown rules, this lockdown will no doubt have led couples to make the decision to move in together, perhaps sooner than they would have done in the absence of a global pandemic.

It is important to have an honest and frank discussion with your partner about your cohabitation plans and your financial expectations of each other before you make this decision, if possible.

If you are a property owner, you should be aware of the possible implications of your cohabitee financially contributing towards a property that you legally own or any promises you make about sharing your home with your partner. Disputes for unmarried couples are dealt with by the civil Courts (not the family Court) and the principles of the law of Trusts will apply. Disputes can therefore often be very costly and stressful, and can take many months or years to resolve.

We regularly advise our clients to formalise their intentions by preparing a Cohabitation Agreement. This is a legal agreement, otherwise known as deed, on which you would separately take legal advice. A properly drafted agreement should minimise the areas of dispute in the future and should set out a clear route for resolving any disputes that may arise. A Cohabitation Agreement serves as clear documentary evidence of your intentions and any agreements you have in relation to the property, should a dispute later arise. Whilst this is often considered unromantic, being clear about your respective intentions when you start living together will allow you both to feel assured as to where you stand financially during the relationship and it will minimise acrimony in the event of a separation.

Cohabitation agreements can cover a range of matters, from your legal interests in property to your respective financial contributions to the mortgage or bills, how the household contents would be divided on separation and your agreement as to whom should leave the property in the event of a separation. These agreements can also be varied and updated, to reflect any changes in the position as time passes and circumstances change (such as having children or changes to financial circumstances).

In the event that you are already cohabiting and do not have an agreement in place, our experts in the Family team can advise you on your legal position and any vulnerability to future claims against your property.

How can Ellis Jones help?

If you require any further advice in relation to the above or wish to have a Cohabitation Agreement drawn up following discussions with your partner, please do not hesitate to get in contact with one of our expert Family Law Solicitors on 01202 636223 or by email to family@ellisjones.co.uk.