Cohabitation Agreements

We are not married,
what are my rights?

Common Law marriage is a myth. Even couples who have been together for decades may discover upon separation that they do not have any legal recognition, leaving them with no ability to ask the Court for a financial award against their former partner.

Depending on how any property is legally and beneficially owned during the relationship, there may be the potential for a claim in relation to jointly occupied property under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA). However,

such applications are far from straightforward and can be very expensive, which is why it may be beneficial to prepare a cohabitation agreement.

If the separating couple have dependent children, then the parent with whom the children are based may make a variety of claims for financial support for the children. To find out more, please see the Financial Provision for Children – Unmarried Couples page.

Cohabitation Agreement
(living together agreement)

If you are considering moving in together as an unmarried couple, you may wish to formalise the financial relationship between you; this can be achieved by way of a cohabitation agreement.

It can detail how shares in a property are to be distributed if the couple subsequently separates. It provides the couple with a degree of certainty, being particularly useful if one party owns the property and the other moves in or if one party is paying funds towards the purchase from the sale of another property. The agreement can set out who receives what and can also deal with issues such as the payment of outgoings or distribution of household contents.

Cohabitation Agreements can also help to reduce the upset and distress caused when a relationship ends by including provision for contentious points such as who pets will live with in the future, or how to deal with any debt.

During our first meeting, we will look at the individual issues that may impact on you if you were to separate in the future and advise on addressing these in the most sensitive and cost-effective way. Please note that you do not have to be at the end of your relationship for advice to be obtained or for a cohabitation agreement to be prepared.

Once you have lived together it may be that your relationship moves towards making plans to marry. To ensure you have maximum protection in the event of a divorce, we can advise on how the terms of your cohabitation agreement can be transferred into a prenuptial agreement.

This is a highly complicated area of the law; our in-house experts specialise in disputes where the parties are un-married, so you are in safe hands.

Cohabitation Resources

Cohabitation Fact Sheet


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