Cohabitation agreements

Couples that cohabit are often surprised to discover that they don’t have the same asset and property rights as a married couple. This can lead to expensive and complicated disputes if the couple splits up.

When married couples and those in civil partnerships split, the law states that both parties have the right to maintenance and their share of assets. It is a common belief that unmarried couples that cohabit are protected with similar rights under “common law marriage”. This is incorrect – common law marriage doesn’t exist in the UK. There is no specific law related to cohabitation, therefore neither party is entitled to anything. A cohabitation agreement is therefore a very useful document to have.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is a document which defines the terms of a relationship. It states who owns what, in what proportion and documents what will happen in the event of a relationship breakdown. In effect it is a relationship contract. The division of assets including property, savings and personal possessions can be documented, as well as any agreed maintenance and provisions for children. Couples should decide on how things are owned and how things will be split prior to speaking to a solicitor.

It is legally binding

Whilst it may seem “unromantic” to set out the terms of a relationship in a cohabitation agreement, it is worth doing to protect against problems down the line. Provided both parties sought independent legal advice and were not coerced or forced to sign it, it is legally binding. Couples without agreements often end up ripping each other apart in court after separation. Couples with agreements in place generally don’t need to attend court at all.

Contact an expert

We can help you draw up a robust cohabitation agreement which will take care of any problems down the line. Contact us online or by telephone to make an appointment to discuss your cohabitation agreement.