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Cohabitation Agreements Guidance

Often, unmarried couples are unclear about the extent of their legal rights. 

If you are planning on living with or are already living with your partner, you may wish to enter into a Cohabitation Agreement to regulate financial matters whilst you are in a relationship.

Our solicitors will help you make informed choices in resolving practical issues resulting from either a relationship breakdown or advising you on wealth protection issues prior to cohabitation. 

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is a legal agreement between unmarried partners who wish to regulate the terms of their relationship. This can include how you manage your household payments/bills and financial assets.

This could be useful in the event of a break-up, as you will have a record of your intentions at the start of the cohabitation. This may reduce emotional pressures and help you agree on matters fairly and amicably.

More and more, Cohabitation Agreements are being used to provide clarity for unmarried couples wishing to regulate the terms of their relationship. An agreement can provide written evidence of what you intended at the outset, as to your respective ownership of property, and what you each intend to happen in the future.

What can you include in a Cohabitation Agreement?

A Cohabitation Agreement can include agreements on residential property, joint bank accounts, financial assets, children or even pets. You may want to consider some of the following points:

  • Respective ownership of any property
  • In the event of a break-up, who will continue to live in the household
  • Each parties’ contribution to household bills, rent or mortgage
  • Outstanding debts, loans or overdrafts (including liabilities)
  • Savings or existing bank accounts
  • Joint savings that accrue during the relationship
  • Life insurance policies
  • Ownership of joint items such as cars, furniture or sentimental items
  • If you have children, how you will support them financially
  • In the event of a break-up, who will care for any pets

Cohabitation Agreement - Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can we still enter into a Cohabitation Agreement if we want to get married in the future?

A: Yes. A Cohabitation Agreement does not prevent couples from marrying in the future. It can actually act as a good starting point if you would like to consider a Pre-Nuptial Agreement before marriage.

Q: What happens if one party stops abiding by the Cohabitation Agreement?

You should get legal advice at the earliest opportunity so that you can seek to protect your interests. A Cohabitation Agreement can be re-drafted at any point, if necessary.

Q: Can I update my Cohabitation Agreement?

Yes, a Cohabitation Agreement can be re-drafted at any point, if necessary.

Q: Are Cohabitation Agreements legally binding?

No. However, the following criteria are met, the agreement can usually be relied upon in the event of a dispute:

  • Each party receives independent legal advice on the terms of the draft agreement;
  • There is full and frank financial disclosure by each party;
  • Each party must enter into the agreement of their own free will;
  • The terms of the agreement must be fair and reasonable;
  • The agreement must be made by way of Deed.

Q: If we break up, will I need a separation agreement?

It is not mandatory. However, it is advisable to enter into a Separation Agreement, especially if you are selling your property. A Separation Agreement will record your intentions through to completion of sale.

Do you need advice?

If you would like to talk to our cohabitation solicitors, in confidence, about how we can help, please call us on 0161 941 4000, or contact us online.

Meet Our Specialists

Home-grown or recruited from national, regional or City firms. Our specialists are experts in their fields and respected by their peers.

Jane Tenquist

Jane Tenquist

Jane is a Partner and Head of the Family Law Team

Nichola Bright

Nichola Bright

Nichola is a Senior Associate in our Family Law department

Sarah Whitelegge

Sarah Whitelegge

Sarah is a Senior Associate in our Family Law department

Gabrielle Dugan

Gabrielle Dugan

Gabrielle is an Associate within the Family Department

Helen Royle

Helen Royle

Helen is a Trainee Solicitor in our Family department.


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