Setting up Home with your Partner


Moving in with your partner or buying a house together can seem like an exciting prospect. Few couples realise how risky their situation can be from a legal point of view. It may seem outdated, but unmarried couples are not protected in law in the same way that married couples or civil partners are. Common law marriage does not exist.

It is well worth taking legal advice as soon as you plan to live together to find out:

  • What rights you do have;
  • Where you and your partner stand in all situations; and
  • What you can do to make your position more secure

Things to consider with your solicitor

Home Ownership
If you move in with someone and the house is only in their name, usually you have no right to the proceeds from selling the house. This applies unless you can prove:

  • You have contributed to the deposit for the house or the mortgage payments; or
  • You have made a financial commitment (for example, paying for major work on the house) because it was agreed you would own a share of the house

If the house is not in your name you may have no right to continue to live there if your partner asks you to leave. You also have no right to inherit the house if your partner dies unless they have put this in their will.

Renting together
If you are renting together, it is a good idea to have the tenancy agreement in both your names.

If you have children with your partner, you need to think about what the child’s surname will be and how to register their birth. Please see our factsheet about Parental Responsibility

Next-of-kin status
If your partner is ill, or dies, you may not be considered as their “next-of-kin” unless you and your partner make a written agreement beforehand.

If you and your partner have separate bank accounts, you cannot have access to money in your partner’s account. If your partner dies, the money in their account will become part of their estate. This means that you will not automatically inherit the money unless this is what it says in their will. One solution is to have a joint bank account.

Tax status
You and your partner will not have the same tax benefits as married couples or civil partners, especially relating to capital gains tax and inheritance tax.

Pension Schemes
If you die, your State Pension is not automatically passed on to your partner. Different rules apply to company and private pensions

Making a will
Please see our factsheet on Wills

Cohabitation Agreements
We can prepare a Cohabitation Agreement for you, dealing with financial and property matters. Please see our Cohabitation factsheet.

Sadly, most couples don’t take legal advice until the relationship fails, a partner dies or there is some other crisis. It is rarely as easy to solve a problem at this stage, but we have the knowledge and experience to protect your interests. Whether it’s a simple case of checking your rights, or a complicated matter regarding the children, we will find the best solution for you within the law.

09 December 2014


The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published.Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances

Posted in: