Cohabitation Agreement

Our advice can help you clarify your existing rights and formalise new ones by way of a cohabitation agreement.

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The rights of unmarried couples differ significantly to those who are married or in a civil partnership. A Cohabitation Agreement can remedy this potentially risky situation, as it sets out how your money, property and assets should be managed. Otherwise, one person could be left with nothing, should the relationship later break down.

Why get a Cohabitation Agreement? 

In England and Wales, there is no such thing as a common law husband or wife. Couples who live together – known as ‘cohabitees’ - have very few legal rights. This can be very dangerous if the relationship comes to an end, as you will not have any rights over your partner’s assets. As a result, you could lose your home, access to savings and even your car, if it’s owned by your partner.

That is where a Cohabitation Agreement comes in. A Cohabitation Agreement is a legal document that you create while you and your partner are living together. It clarifies your existing rights and formalise new ones.

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What’s included in a Cohabitation Agreement?

A Cohabitation Agreement can be drafted in a flexible way to address your specific circumstances. It can set out the rights of responsibilities of each party during the relationship. It can also detail what should happen to your money, property and children, should your relationship ever come to an end.

Amongst other things, a Cohabitation Agreement can:

  • Detail the ownership of the assets
  • Set out the financial responsibilities of each party, including who pays the utility bills and mortgage payments
  • Confirm the day-to-day responsibilities of each party, and how these will change in the future following the birth of a child etc.
  • Describe how the assets and debts should be divided, in the event of a separation
  • Determine maintenance and child care arrangements, in the event of a separation
  • Set out what happens to your pets, in the event of a separation

Is a Cohabitation Agreement legally binding?

Cohabitation Agreements are legally binding, so long as they have been executed correctly. They are likely to be upheld by the courts, provided that each person has been honest about their financial position. Therefore, it is important to obtain legal advice before signing the agreement, or you may consent to something that you later regret.

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What if we’ve been together for a long time?

Many couples decide to cohabit rather than marry, which can have significant consequences upon the division of the ‘jointly’ owned assets. If you have been in a lengthy relationship, many couples assume that the assets are ‘mingled’ and are jointly owned. However, this is not the case. Many couples enter into a Cohabitation Agreement to protect their financial position should their relationship breakdown.

Cohabitation Agreements also assist couples in avoiding any misunderstanding, especially when it comes to detailing the ownership of any property. This is particularly important where ownership is not equal, perhaps because one person contributed more towards the deposit or mortgage payments.

Amending your Cohabitation Agreement

During your relationship, your circumstances may change, such as the birth of any children or a change in financial position. You can amend your Cohabitation Agreement, although any changes have to be made mutually.

Speak to our Family Law Solicitors

If you would like to know more about a Cohabitation Agreement, contact us at Aticus Law. We can discuss whether a Cohabitation Agreement would be suitable in your circumstances. If so, we can help you draft the document, and will advise you on the implications of signing the agreement.

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