Cohabitees and unmarried couples

Living with a partner outside of marriage offers very little legal protection. If disagreements arise around financial assets or children, a legally binding cohabitation agreement helps keep the peace.

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You and your partner can protect your financial position by entering into a ‘cohabitation agreement’ which sets out who owns what and in what proportion.

The agreement can document how you will split your property, its contents, personal belongings, savings and other assets should the relationship break down. It can also be used to set out how you will manage your day-to-day finances, such as how much you both contribute to rent or mortgage and bills, whether you will take out life insurance on each other, and who is responsible for debts.

Helping you understand your cohabitation rights

Whether you are moving in with a new partner and want to make sure you’re prepared for the future, or you’re at the end of a relationship and trying to ease the process of moving apart, it is essential to understand your cohabitation rights.

Ideally, you’ll have a cohabitation agreement in place when you move in together as a couple. It sets out the terms on which you will live together regarding income, property and belongings. It can be straightforward to draw up and can help protect your long-term interests.

As couples that live together do not have the same law applied to them as a married couple, it is important to get specialist advice about the financial consequences of separating from your partner.

FAQs

Frequently asked questions about cohabitation

“I am moving in with my partner, does this mean I have the same rights as a married couple?”

The simple answer is ‘no’. There is no such thing as a common law spouse and cohabiting couples do not have the same rights as married ones, regardless of the number of years they have been together.

“Is a cohabitation agreement legally enforceable?”

A cohabitation agreement is a contract between the couple. It can be legally enforceable provided certain formal requirements are met and provided it is not unfair to either of you and does not prejudice the rights of third parties, including your children. To maximize the chances of enforceability, you and your partner should both take independent legal advice.

We can advise you about the way to maximize the enforceability of your agreement in your particular circumstances.

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