Everything you need to know about cohabitation agreements

January 12th, 2022

What is a cohabitation agreement?

A cohabitation agreement (also known as a living together agreement) is a form of agreement that can be agreed between couples who have chosen to live together. A cohabitation agreement set out arrangements for finances, property division and children. It can also document what is agreed should you split up or die.

You can make an agreement at any time, however it is best to do it before you move in together to ensure all parties are in agreement.

Without a cohabitation agreement, unmarried cohabitating couples have practically no rights to the other person’s property on separation or loss of life. There is no such thing as a common law marriage.

Are these legally binding?

A properly drafted cohabitation agreement is a legal contract between two parties and can be enforced in court. It is therefore essential that you obtain independent legal advice before you enter into one.

You can draft a cohabitation agreement yourself, however if it is not executed in the proper way, you may not be able to rely on it when you need it most.

What does a cohabitation agreement cover?

Having the correct legal documentation in place can protect both you and your loved ones if one of you becomes seriously ill, dies or if you split up. A cohabitation agreement, often sits alongside your will reflecting your wishes should the worst happen.

A cohabitation agreement covers several key aspects that are agreed as part of living together.

This can include:

  • Contributions towards bills
  • Agreements as to who owns what (furniture and other key assets)
  • Protection of any initial investment (one person puts more money into the deposit than the other)
  • Childcare arrangements including next of kin rights in a medical emergency
  • Access to wealth and pensions in the event of loss of life

When do you need a cohabitation agreement?

You should have a cohabitation agreement if you are living with a partner.

You do not have to purchase a property to have a cohabitation drawn up. You can be committing to a tenancy agreement with a partner and want assurance that each of you responsible for specific bills. A properly drafted cohabitation agreement, could last you for a number of different tenancies without the need to change your specific address.

How much do these cost?

Costs of a cohabitation agreement can vary. Linder Myers Solicitors offers a free 20 minute consultation to anyone wishing to discuss cohabitation or any other legal matters. We can advise you on the cost for your individual situation and advise the next steps.

This conversation is obligation free, so contact us using the form below and a member of our team will be in contact shortly.

Consequences of not having a cohabitation agreement

Not having a cohabitation agreement could result in you or your partner having to assume debts in the event that you split up or one of you dies. It is important to remember that just by living together, doesn’t mean that your partner will automatically inherit your share of the property should you die.

If the relationship ends for any reason, the result can be quite messy and expensive. Parties who live together without the benefit of marriage and enter into major property transactions like investing in real estate together are at risk of losing any interest they have in the property, particularly if one person enters into a transaction without their partner’s consent or involvement.

Don’t take our word for it…

Why I wish I got a cohabitation agreement

I purchased a house with my partner in 2013. We were in a committed relationship so we opted to purchase the property as joint tenants. We had been saving for a number of years, however our deposit money was matched by some inheritance I received from the death of a family member. We verbally agreed that I was contributing 75% of the deposit.

6 short months later we broke up. As their family had recently moved house and there was no room for them to move back home, it was easier for me to vacate the property. I continued to contribute to the mortgage as best as possible. However we agreed that the spare room was sublet to ensure that we could make our payments. We committed to a 2 year fixed term mortgage so to avoid losing any money, we decided to keep the property for the 2 years.

Once the property was sold, the money was split 50-50. This meant I lost out on £12,500 in just 2 years for a property I lived in for 6 months.

“I would whole heartedly recommend everyone getting a cohabitation agreement. We were in a loving relationship, however, when it comes to money everyone changes.”

Writing a cohabitation agreement with a solicitor

A solicitor can ensure that your cohabitation agreement covers everything that you want to be included and ensure that both parties understand the importance of the document and the results should either party not uphold their requirements.

Writing a will with a solicitor ensures peace of mind that should you need to call on the cohabitation agreement document, it will cover what you need it to.

Our family law team at Linder Myers Solicitors help hundreds of couples each year to write cohabitation agreements and ensure that couples go into the next step of their life together with understanding of their individual legal position.

Linder Myers Solicitors offers a free 20 minute consultation to anyone wishing to discuss cohabitation or any other legal matters. Please use the contact form below and a member of our team will be in contact shortly, alternatively you can read more about our services here. 

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