Cohabitation: Essential Things to Consider When Living with a Partner

Two people drinking coffee and eating cake at a table, holding hands

Moving in with a partner is a significant next step in any relationship. While the thought of living together is fun and exciting, there are several aspects to consider to ensure a smooth transition and a harmonious living arrangement. 

In this article, we’ll be providing essential tips on how best to navigate cohabitation, what your rights are when discussing finances, and how to establish clear communication while living under one roof. 

What is cohabitation?

Cohabitation refers to an unmarried couple residing in the same household. You are officially cohabiting if you live with someone who you’re in a romantic relationship with, but are not married to. Couples who live together can also be termed “common-law partners”.

The rights of couple cohabitation

Cohabiting couples have fewer rights than civil partners or married couples. Living together without being married generally means you won’t have many rights around finances, children, or property. As such, you’ll have limited protection if your relationship breaks down or either you or your partner passes away.

Your cohabitation circumstances won’t be treated the same as divorcing couples when they separate. Whether you’ve lived together for years, have children, or run a business together, you won’t be able to inherit any wealth from one another if you’re not married. 

What should you consider when living with a partner?

Figure out who’s bringing what

If you and your partner are moving into a brand new space, you may already have your own furniture from current living arrangements. If you’re downsizing, it’s a great time to evaluate what you need for your new home and what you can get rid of.

Plan the entire moving process before it gets underway. Decide who is bringing what furniture and write a list of anything you need to get you both started in your new home. 

Discuss household responsibilities

Household chores and responsibilities can often cause conflict in a relationship, especially if you’ve never experienced living together before. It’s important to decide who is in charge of what before the big day comes around – this includes laundry, cooking, washing up, and taking out the bins. 

It’s never a good idea to leave all the chores to one person. Resentment can build and the partner may become tired and burnt out, resulting in anger and frustration directed at the other person. 

It’s worth working out your finances, too. Will one person pay the mortgage/rent and the other pay the bills? Will you open a joint account together?

Clear communication

You’ll be sure to learn new things about your partner each day, especially when being in such proximity. There is so much to discuss when deciding to move in together, so open and honest communication is so important. 

This can make or break a relationship, especially when emotions are heightened. Ensure to check in on each other and bring up difficult topics that might be bothering you. Ironing out any issues as soon as they arise can help keep conflict to a minimum. 

Sign a cohabitation agreement

A cohabitation agreement is a legally binding document for couples who live together. It outlines the financial duties of each person in the relationship and will discuss your intentions should the relationship come to an end. 

It’s worth seeking the advice of an expert family lawyer to help you draft up the agreement. The document could set out how much each of you should contribute towards household expenses, who owns what valuable items, and what happens to pensions or savings should one of you pass away. 

A specialist lawyer will ensure the agreement is fair and all parties are satisfied with the details discussed.  

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