Living Together: 6 Ways You Can Protect Each Other 

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Living Together: 6 Ways You Can Protect Each Other 

Moving in together is a great way to test a relationship before committing further by getting married or having children together. But it does expose you to some legal risks. 

Cohabiting couples are couples who are unmarried and living together. This is one of the fastest growing demographics in the UK, as many people are deciding to marry and / or have children later on in life, for a number of reasons. 

The term ‘common law husband and wife’ is still referred to, although this is a law that does not exist! No matter how long you have lived together, or how entangled your assets become, there is not the same legal protection that you get from being husband and wife or civil partners. This is why some people that do not believe in the traditional marriage ideals, still decide to tie the knot in order to protect themselves. Of course, getting married isn’t for everyone, or it might be something that you want to do later down the road, so here are some ways that you can protect each other whilst living together. 


Risks of Living Together Without Protection 

Essentially there are two major changes of circumstance that can put you at risk if you are living together, unmarried, without any additional planning in place. Death and separation. 

Should one of your pass away, the other party may have no automatic right of inheritance or even remain able to live in the property.  

Should the relationship break down and come to an end, deciding on what happens with the property and your possessions becomes very complicated. Particularly where affordability is an issue, the property is owned singularly, or one person contributes more financially than the other. 


Protection to Put in Place 

If you are concerned or want to put in place some protection ahead of moving in with a partner, then it is advisable to seek your own independent legal advice so that you can benefit from tailored advice that will fit your own circumstances. 

Some things you can do to both be protected include: 

#1 A Cohabitation Agreement 

This is a legal document that sets out what would happen in the event of separation. It is designed to protect the legal rights of unmarried couples by clearly outlining what will happen, providing clarity and reducing the likelihood of misunderstandings or litigation. 

#2 A Pre-Nuptial Agreement 

Similar to a cohabitation agreement, this document states what would happen to your assets in the event of a divorce. It can be put in place for engaged couples ahead of their wedding day, or a post-nuptial agreement can be used for those who have already tied the knot. It requires both parties to take independent legal advice ahead of signing. 

#3 Make Wills 

Both having Wills prepared will clarify what is to happen with your assets and who you plan to provide for when your pass away. This can provide peace of mind. If you already have an existing Will and are moving in with a new partner, you should revisit your Will to get it updated. If you have children together, you can also appoint legal guardians within your Wills. 

#4 Take Out Life Insurance 

Life insurance is a vital tool to protect your family. If you have purchased a property, taking out life insurance should be at the top of your ‘to do’ list to make sure that you other half receives help with the mortgage should you pass away. Life insurance can pay of all or part of your property and can have additional benefits depending on the package that you take out. Ensure that your partner’s name is your nominated beneficiary. This can be easily missed when people separate and move on to a new relationship. 

#5 Check Your Pensions 

It is worth digging out your pension paperwork and ensuring that your significant other is listed as your beneficiary so that your pension benefits pass to them upon your death. People tend to take out multiple pensions throughout their lifetime as they change jobs, so there may be a few to check and update. You could consider consolidating all your pensions into one pot, but advice is recommended to avoid losing any additional benefits that you may have with an existing provider. 

#6 Consider How You Own Your Property 

There are different ways to own a property together with a partner. Your Conveyancing Solicitor will be able to advise you what is best for your circumstances. Things can become more complicated if one party contributes more to the deposit or monthly mortgage payments, or if you are in a situation where you are moving into a property that is already owned by one of your singularly and has built equity. Agreements and caveats can be out in place for circumstances that are not straightforward or 50/50. This provides some protection and peace of mind for the party who has more to lose financially if the relationship breaks down. 

If you are worried about protecting yourself should your partner die or the relationship comes to an end, then speak to a Solicitor about the best route for protecting yourself and your family. 


Conversations to Have Before Moving In Together 

There are a few conversations and ‘best practices’ that are also sensible to lay out on the table early on when you move in together. These will also help to protect your relationship and get off on the right foot. 

  • Set Boundaries 

To avoid any domestic disagreements early on, it is important to let your partner know what you are or aren’t comfortable with and if you have any particular deal-breakers or bugbears when it comes to living together. It might be that you are not a morning person and cannot cope with being woken up earlier than your alarm. Or it might be that you need personal space. Communicate your differences and be respectful of one another from the offset.

  • Divide Household Chores 

Unfairness of housework are one of the biggest reasons why newly weds or couples who have recently moved in together argue. Agree on how chores should be divided and make sure that roles are equal and that both are contributing their fair share, regardless of gender, financial contribution or work hours. 

  • Make Decisions Together 

From what colour to paint the lounge, to whose family is invited at Christmas, there will be lots of decisions to make over the coming years. It is important to both have a say about household decisions and particularly large decisions. One person taking charge can cause frustration. 

  • Talk Finances 

When living together it is important to be transparent about your finances. Whilst you may want to keep your personal money separate and have some degree of secrecy around your spending habits. It is vital to appreciate that your finances are going to be more closely aligned and how one person manages their finances can significantly impact the other. Make sure you discuss how your mortgage, rent, bills and food shopping will be split before you move in together. Being honest is key and can stop any money problems from spiralling. 

  • Keep Up the Romance 

It is important not to become lazy once you have moved in together. Be sure to still have date nights, spend time together inside and outside of your home. It can be tricky when you have put all your money into the property or are finding that your mortgage payments leave you with little extra cash at the end of each month, but there are small gestures and affordable ways to show each other that you still care. 

  • Discuss Your Goals 

Couples moving in together should have an idea about what the future will look like. Is marriage on the cards? Do you both want to have children at some point? What is your opinion on having pets? Is the house you a buying a stopgap or a forever home? Where do you see yourself  in 5 years? Or what do you want your retirement to look like? These points, and many others are important to know before stepping onto the property ladder together. 


Legal Advice for Cohabiting Couples 

Whether you are already living under the same roof or are considering moving in with your partner and want some advice, then please get in touch with our friendly, knowledgeable team today. 

Between our Family, Property and Wills & Probate Teams, we will be able to provide you with some well-rounded guidance on how you can best position yourself to start your relationship with some peace of mind and protect yourself as much as possible should things go wrong. 

Call us on 03444 124348, email us at or complete the contact form on our website to arrange a call back from a member of our team. 

We look forward to helping you navigate living together and creating a sensible plan for all outcomes.