First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes…buying a house? Not necessarily in that order.
It’s fair to say that times have changed dramatically over the years when it comes to UK living habits. The once societal “norm” to get married as a young adult and move into your marital home before bringing up children has fallen by the wayside.
The reasons for this are numerous, but in general, we are busier, we work harder, and many modern relationships are functioning just fine without the sound of wedding bells. And so came the alternative route, which was cohabitation.
What exactly does cohabitation mean?
To cohabit means to live with your partner without the formalities of being married. Unlike living with a housemate, cohabiting couples are generally in a long-term relationship and live exactly like a married couple. While this includes more freedom than a marriage, it can bring about some confusion when it comes to a couple’s rights, or the rights of an individual in the case of cohabitation disputes.
What are the risks of cohabiting?
As with any big decision in life, cohabitation comes with potential consequences. Choosing to live with your partner can be an exciting concept, but it is worth taking the time to go through all potential outcomes. The more you know, the better off you’ll be.
As obvious as it sounds, you should remind yourself that you have less rights when cohabiting than you do in a marriage. In the event of a failed relationship (as much as you don’t want to foresee such an event), you could be left with the short straw if your name is not on the property, for example. Many couples believe they have some sort of automatic rights if they have lived there for a long time, and this is not always the case.
Things to consider before cohabiting
Common sense goes a long way when it comes to cohabitation. Plan ahead as opposed to jumping in with both feet. Learn the facts, ask the questions, consider the unconsidered, and most importantly, sit down with your partner and talk everything through. It could be that you’re not ready for cohabiting, or that one partner has different expectations to the other. Communication in the very beginning will iron things out and increase your chances of success further down the line.
A good example of this forward planning is your finances as a couple. Who will pay the council tax? Who is responsible for paying the broadband bill? Has this been highlighted in a cohabitation agreement? It may sound insignificant, but as so many disputes are around money and finances, it’s wise to have this all as black and white as possible.
Living together successfully
Cohabitation is an increasingly popular living option for couples in the UK. You can live together successfully, so long as you are wise about your decision and consider all options. It is worth looking into an cohabitation agreement and reading up on cohabitation disputes.