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Do I need a Cohabitation Agreement?

Couples who are not married are provided considerably less legal protection on separation or death

Divorce, living together and family issues

Couples who are not married or in a civil partnership, but who do live in the same household, are provided considerably less legal protection on separation or death. Therefore, drawing up a cohabitation agreement can be greatly beneficial.

A cohabitation agreement sets out the arrangements which will apply when a couple live together, categorising who owns which assets or what share of an asset each individually owns. The agreement can also include individual rights if a breakdown of the relationship were to occur. A solicitor can assist you in drafting such an agreement and advising what should be included.

A cohabitation agreement is binding if at the time of entering into it, the document is drafted and executed properly, it is signed as a deed, and both parties have been obtained independent legal advice. There must be no evidence that either party has entered into the agreement under duress or coercion from the other person, otherwise the agreement will not be binding.

What a cohabitation agreement should include:

·        Children – ensuring that provisions for their maintenance are included

·        Ownership of real and personal property

·        Finances - how the bills will be paid, who will pay the rent and from who’s accounts, etc.

·        Other matters - it is crucial not to include trivial matters.

A cohabitation agreement is a fluid document meaning it can be amended at any time in the future, which is important as people’s lives are constantly changing. Any agreement should be reviewed following significant changes such as the birth of children, house moves or inheritance.

Once you have reached an agreement with your partner you will need to speak with a solicitor to draw up the cohabitation agreement. The costs will differ depending on the complexity of your agreement. Before the agreement can be finalised, both parties must seek independent legal advice to ensure the agreement is fair and is not being made under duress, and the agreement must also be signed in the presence of witnesses.

If you would like to learn more about drawing up a cohabitation agreement you can search for a regulated solicitor who specialises in Family and Matrimonial law, without ever having to provide any of your personal details, at