I want to move in with my partner. What should I think about?

Jennifer peebles portrait.

Jennifer Peebles


Phone 01264 325823

Email jpeebles@bsandi.co.uk

It’s a milestone moment. Moving in together is a huge step in any relationship and it’s one couples should celebrate.

Without wishing to take away from that, as lawyers we instinctively move to ‘protection mode’. In other words, we want to help people minimise their exposure to risk and make sure they put the right safeguards in place. This isn’t just about providing for if things go wrong. It’s also about helping cohabitation – and the relationship – work by having a clear understanding about some of the fundamental things that go into living together.

Your friends and family will want to know you’re sure that moving in with your partner is the right step for you to take, both on a practical and an emotional level. As Family lawyers, we would advise you to think about these things, as a starting point:

Ownership of the property

If you are moving into your partner’s home, will you gain part- ownership or will the property remain entirely theirs? The main reason to really consider this is that if you were to split up, you could be left without anything to show for the time you lived together and the contributions you made.

How will you split bills?

Will you have a formal arrangement in place that says, for example, that you will pay for food and other household purchases and your partner will cover the bills? It’s important to think about this because of the question that would arise if your relationship were to break down: what is due to each party based on their contributions? It’s also likely to be key to the smooth-running of the cohabitation.

It’s a good idea to make a will

Unmarried couples do not benefit from the law relating to married couples which enables a husband or wife to automatically inherit from their spouse’s estate. If you are an unmarried couple, the things you each own outright will not pass in the same way. That is where a will, specifying how you’d like your partner to benefit from your assets (and vice versa), can make such a difference.

There’s no substitute for working out in advance how cohabitation would work best for you as an individual and as a couple and then record your arrangement in a cohabitation agreement. This is a legal document that you might never need to rely on but which could be of significant benefit to you if you do.

To find out more about cohabitation agreements, or for advice about cohabitation, please contact our family department on 01264 353411 or email family@bsandi.co.uk and a member of the team would be happy to help.

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