Q: I live in Wales and my girlfriend lives in Shropshire. We have been going out for a year, but due to COVID lockdown restrictions we have physically seen very little of each other. Because of this my girlfriend wants to move in with me. However, I am concerned that living together so soon could be for the wrong reasons, to beat the rules. Also, I own my own house and she does not. If she moves in and things don’t work out, could she make any claim on my property?
A: The COVID-19 pandemic is responsible for many couples feeling ‘forced’ into cohabitation in order to see each other regularly, especially where cross country borders inflict different rules. But coronavirus aside, it is sensible for couples moving in together without marrying or being in a civil partnership to draw up a co-habitation agreement at the outset, particularly if one partner has greater assets than the other or if the property is solely owned by one of them.
A co-habitation agreement can contain as much or as little information as you want and it can be reviewed and altered at any time. It would provide you with a level of certainty and security for the long term and save a lot of heartache and unpleasantness if the relationship should later break down.
You should each take independent legal advice when drawing up the agreement, to ensure there can be no doubt about what you are agreeing and to make your agreement binding. The agreement should lay out details of how each person contributes to household bills, how joint debts and bank accounts are dealt with, what happens to items bought jointly etc., in the event of a break-up. You will also both need to make full enclosure of your assets prior to moving in together which, in your case will include your home.
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