Cohabitation during the COVID-19 lockdown
As the UK enters its 5th week of Covid-19 lockdown it is likely many relationships are starting to feel the pressure of being with their spouse or significant other 24/7.
Many couples who are not married may have felt their relationship has been fast-tracked as they decided to move in together rather than go solo and face the duration of lockdown separated from each other.
For some this time will only strengthen the relationship and they may decide to make the cohabitation permanent once lockdown is lifted. For others this forced time together may allow the couple to see that unfortunately the relationship is not going to survive lockdown and they will want to separate once lockdown is lifted.
In either case, frank discussions are required. Although living together does not give each party the same rights and entitlements as a married couple get on relationship breakdown, it is possible for the partner who is not the legal owner of the property to establish a legal interest in certain circumstances. Each case is decided on its own merits but certain factors will be looked at including the length of the cohabitation, improvements made to the property, the intentions of the parties etc.
For couples who plan to continue living together post lockdown, it is wise to enter into a Cohabitation Agreement to record the intentions each party has on how assets should be divided if the relationship were to fail in the future.
For those who plan to separate post lockdown, negotiations will be required to determine if and how assets are to be divided between the parties.
In either case our experienced family solicitors are here to assist and advise you on your individual rights and options depending on your specific needs. Speak to us in confidence either in a telephone call or via Skype.
Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors in Ipswich.