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Family Law

Cohabitation agreement

Cohabitation agreements are legally binding contracts in which a couple who live together set out how they will share their assets if their relationship ends. If you are living with someone, or planning to live with someone, our established family lawyers can draft an agreement that protects both you and your partner’s financial interests.

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What do cohabitation agreements cover?

Cohabitation agreements, also known as living together agreements, vary depending upon the circumstances and needs of the couple who create it.

A cohabitation contract can include:

  • How income and savings will be shared.
  • What will happen to property.
  • What will happen to other valuable assets such as cars and furniture.
  • How any children will be financially supported.

There are also other matters which require careful thought from a couple who are planning to live together, but which should not be included in a cohabitation agreement. These include arrangements for children.

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Who does a cohabitation agreement protect?

A cohabitation agreement provides legal protection to couples who live together but who are not married or in a civil partnership.

It is a common myth that couples who cohabit for any reasonable period of time are entitled to an element of protection in the form of “common law marriage”. This is not the case.

Cohabiting couples have little legal protection if they separate. That is why it is vital that couples who are planning to cohabit take steps to protect their respective financial positions.

Is a cohabitation agreement legally binding?

Cohabitation agreements that set out the financial and property arrangements of a couple are enforceable by law. However, it is important that an agreement is properly drafted to make sure there are no disagreements about its validity or enforceability if a relationship ends.

How can Davisons help?

Our family lawyers have extensive experience in preparing cohabitation agreements. We will carefully draft an agreement that is tailored to your circumstances ensuring that you are financially protected whatever happens in life.

We offer a Free Initial Assessment so you can talk to one of our experts to find out how we can help. There is no charge and no obligation whatsoever.

Have any questions or need any help?

Our team of specialist lawyers are experts in their field. Be confident in their advice and decisions to help get the right outcome for you. Contact us today to see how we can help

Cohabitation agreement FAQs

The cost varies depending upon individual circumstances. For example, a simple agreement that sets out who will take responsibility for mortgage repayments will cost less than an agreement that sets out complex financial arrangements.

Both parties need to seek advice from an independent solicitor to ensure their interests are protected. One party’s solicitor will draft the agreement and sign it off.

A cohabitation agreement costs between £700 and £4,000. This may seem expensive but if you need to settle your financial affairs in court costs can spiral to tens of thousands of pounds.

For a free estimate based on your circumstances, please contact our solicitors on 0808 304 7471.

A cohabitation agreement can be modified at any time, but only with the consent of both parties. Changes can be made by entering into a new cohabitation agreement or by amending the terms of the existing cohabitation agreement.

It is a good idea to keep your agreement under review to make sure it reflects any changes in life such as the birth of children, serious illness, or a significant change in financial circumstances.

You can draw up your own agreement but there are several reasons why it is better to instruct a solicitor.

An agreement drawn up by a solicitor offers you greater legal protection. It will be drawn up with adherence to the law which means it is less likely to be challenged if your relationship breaks down. Defending a cohabitation agreement in the court can be extremely expensive.

A solicitor will also provide you with impartial legal advice on what you need to include in your agreement. They will make sure your intentions are clearly expressed and your interests are protected. If your agreement is watertight, it will be easier to resolve any disputes should they arise.

There are two ways to own a property with your partner:

• As joint tenants. You both own the whole property
• As tenants in common. You each have a specific share in the property

Most cohabiting couples own property as tenants in common.

If you purchase a property as tenants in common, it is a good idea to expressly state what portions of the property you both own through a declaration of trust. Without a declaration of trust, you are leaving it to be implied by the financial contributions you have both made.

Tenants in common do not have a right of survivorship like joint tenants do, which means that when one tenant dies the other tenant does not automatically inherit the rest of the property. The deceased tenant’s portion will go to whoever they have named in their Will. Drawing up a declaration of trust is a way to give you both the same rights as joint tenants.

A declaration of trust can include important details such as:

• How much each person will contribute towards mortgage repayments.
• What percentage share of the property each person owns. For example, if one partner pays most of the mortgage their share may be greater.
• What will happen if someone dies or moves out.

It is sensible to have a declaration of trust drawn up by a solicitor when you purchase a property as tenants in common. Doing so can avoid an expensive, prolonged legal dispute over property if your relationship ends.