Guide to cohabiting during lockdown

We highlight some of the key factors to consider if you have moved in with your partner during the coronavirus lockdown.

There has been a reported rise in the number of couples moving in together to avoid being completely separated during the coronavirus lockdown. In this article, we highlight some of the key factors to consider if you have moved in with your partner during the coronavirus lockdown.

Why are couples 'locking down' together?

In line with many countries around the globe, the UK Government has set out strict lockdown rules in the UK to combat the spread of coronavirus. These rules stipulate that people are only allowed to leave their homes for food, for health reasons or for work (if they are unable to work from home). Meeting up with anyone who doesn't live in the same household is prohibited, including friends, family and even partners.

For couples not already living together, this left them with two options; either take the plunge and go into lockdown together or be separated until the lockdown is lifted. Many couples have opted for the first option, resulting in a sharp increase in the number of cohabiting couples.

Lockdown cohabitation – know your rights

With the lockdown triggering some couples to move in together sooner than they might otherwise have planned, many will have had very little time to prepare for cohabitation.

Regardless of whether couples are planning to cohabit on a temporary or permanent basis, they need to fully understand where they stand (both financially and legally) so that they know what will happen if their relationship comes to an end. With everything that's going on, this could be easily overlooked, but it's really important that it isn't.

In England and Wales, any couple not in a marriage or civil partnership is not protected by the law, because the law does not recognise cohabiting couples. What this means is that if the couple separates, neither person will have legal protection for the financial contributions they have made during the relationship. Ultimately, one person could be left with nothing.

Making sure you're protected while cohabiting in lockdown

It's a good idea to safeguard any financial investment that you are making as soon as you begin to make these contributions. One effective way to do this is to put a Cohabitation Agreement in place.

This is a written agreement that sets out how your finances should be divided in the event of separation. It can also set out how certain things will work during the relationship, such as who is responsible for paying which bills and how much each person will contribute to the rent or mortgage payments each month.

Because a Cohabitation Agreement is drawn up and agreed upon between you while you are together, it means that all the decisions have been reasonably made while you are on good terms. What's more, a Cohabitation Agreement must be fair and reasonable. A Family Law Solicitor can advise you on what is considered to be 'reasonable' when drafting your Cohabitation Agreement.

Ultimately, having a properly drafted Cohabitation Agreement in place can help to avoid nasty disputes between you and your partner if you do separate in the future.

How to make a cohabitation agreement during lockdown

It is possible to make a Cohabitation Agreement without needing to visit a solicitor's office or speak to anyone face to face. At Co-op Legal Services, our Family Law Solicitors can provide this service remotely, offering comprehensive support, guidance and advice via telephone and email. All documentation will be sent out to you by post.