Cohabitation Agreements

30 June 2021

The property market has boomed over the last year with many unmarried couples purchasing their first homes together. This is an exciting time for these couples, but what plans are in place should the relationship come to an end?

In this article Head of Family Law Brenda Spain looks at why unmarried couples should consider a Cohabitation Agreement.

Why you need a Cohabitation Agreement.
If you live with your partner or are considering moving in together you may have thought about a Cohabitation Agreement. There is, of course, no legal requirement to have a Cohabitation Agreement to live with a partner but it can be useful to protect your finances and establish practical arrangements both during the relationship and unfortunately if that relationship comes to an end.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?
A Cohabitation Agreement basically sets out what you and your partner would like to happen in terms of your financial arrangements both during the relationship and most importantly if it comes to an end. You should discuss the financial aspects of the relationship and set them out clearly in the agreement. It can be as detailed as you both wish.

Do cohabitants have the same rights as married couples?
The answer is no. Nor is there any such thing as a common law husband and wife, despite the length of the relationship.

One of the key incentives to enter into Cohabitation Agreements is to ensure that your arrangements and intentions are clearly set out.

Many couples who have lived together and separate end up in bitter disputes because there was no agreement about what should happen to the house, money, businesses or even what the children arrangements are likely to be.

Cohabitation disputes before the Courts can be very expensive and a Cohabitation Agreement can be evidentially helpful in those circumstances otherwise you are left to organise the division of assets informally at a time that may already be challenging and sensitive so it can be a helpful insurance policy against future difficulties.

Obtaining advise at this stage of your relationship can be crucial as it can affect many aspects of your financial arrangements for example:

How the ownership of the property should be set out. What if somebody is making a larger contribution that the other through savings, inheritance, or previous divorce settlement?

There are no maintenance right between parties should the relationship end.

There is no automatic entitlement to your partner’s pension. What can you do, including death in service benefits, Will and Estate Planning?

If you would like a free initial consultation with a member of our expert Family Law team to discuss a cohabitation agreement, please contact us on 01244 356 789 or email

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

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