Cohabitation Agreements Explained

Cohabiting couples don’t have the same rights as married couples, so it’s a good idea to put a Cohabitation Agreement in place to set out who owns what, your financial responsibilities and how any joint assets will be divided in the event of a separation.

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By Claudia Price - 17th May 2021

If you are living with your partner but you are not married, then you might want to consider putting a Cohabitation Agreement in place.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A Cohabitation Agreement is a legal agreement between an unmarried couple who are living together, or intend to live together. It sets out who owns what (including ownership of any property), what each party is financially responsible for and how any joint assets will be divided in the event of a separation.

Why should I have a Cohabitation Agreement?

Cohabitants sometimes assume that by living together they are protected under a ‘common law marriage’. However, no such law exists. Therefore, it is advisable to put a Cohabitation Agreement in place to protect yourself financially should the relationship break down. Otherwise, you could be left with nothing, despite any verbal agreements that have previously been made.

Having a Cohabitation Agreement in place will enable both parties to be clear about their financial responsibilities and commitments. It will detail each person’s intentions in writing, should a separation and subsequent dispute occur. 

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Do cohabitees have the same rights as a married couple?

No, cohabiting couples do not have the same rights as married couples. If your relationship breaks down, you are not automatically entitled to any of your partner’s assets. Under the current law, the only way cohabitants can protect themselves financially is by way of a Cohabitation Agreement.

What can a Cohabitation Agreement include?

The agreement can be drafted in a flexible manner to meet your particular needs. This can even include what will happen to any pets on a separation. The agreement can also cover (but is not limited to):

  1. Ownership of property
  2. How joint assets will be divided in the event of a separation
  3. How the monthly utilities and mortgage will be discharged each month
  4. Debts of either party
  5. Responsibilities of the parties with regards to maintenance of the property
  6. Next of kin rights

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Can we amend the agreement?

Yes – it is recommended that you amend the agreement should any major life (and financial) changes occur, such as;

  • The birth of any children
  • If one party is made redundant
  • If one party becomes seriously ill
  • If one party receives a large inheritance

Both parties have to consent to any changes being made to the agreement.

Is a Cohabitation Agreement legal binding in the UK?

Yes, a Cohabitation Agreement is legally binding, provided that it has been executed correctly and has satisfied the following requirements:

  • Both parties freely entered into the agreement
  • The agreement has been drafted correctly by a legal professional
  • The agreement is signed and dated
  • Both parties have obtained independent legal advice
  • The agreement has been kept updated with any significant life changes

Make a Cohabitation Agreement

If you wish to speak to our team of cohabitation agreement solicitors about putting a Cohabitation Agreement in place, call us today for a free initial no-obligation appointment.

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