Legal services for cohabitation agreements

Many people believe there is something called a ‘common law spouse’, but this is not true. In fact, two thirds of cohabiting couples wrongly believe 'common law marriage' exists when dividing up finances after a split.

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Many people believe there is something called a ‘common law spouse’, but this is not true. In fact, two thirds of cohabiting couples wrongly believe 'common law marriage' exists when dividing up finances after a split.

What is a cohabitation agreement?

Should your relationship end, a cohabitation agreement is a document that sets out how you will support your children over and above any legal duty to provide care and support, and define how you will split any bank accounts, pension schemes and debts, as well as joint purchases (such as cars).

You may also wish to describe who owns which assets while you live together, and the procedures around joint finances, such as how much each of you pays towards the mortgage, rent or bills.

If you’re not married to your partner, a cohabitation agreement will protect your interests in the event that you split up. 


Is a cohabitation agreement legally binding?

For your cohabitation agreement to have a strong basis in UK law, you must intend to give legal force to its terms. You may wish to state this intention in the agreement. The document must also be ‘executed as a deed’ and signed in the presence of witnesses.

However, you must keep in mind that the court may not uphold your cohabitation agreement if it deems its terms to be unfair.

To increase the chance that the law will uphold the document, it’s advisable that both you and your partner seek independent legal advice. You must also be open about your financial status before you enter into the agreement.

How should I draw up an agreement?

You should do this with the help of a family solicitor, such as those First4Lawyers work with.

You should start by agreeing on who owns what, and how you wish to split your assets in the event that your relationship ends. You or your partner should then hire a solicitor to draw up the agreement before providing a copy to the other partner.

If you are both happy with the terms of the deed, each of you should then sign it in the presence of witnesses.

Will we need to update a cohabitation agreement?

As time goes on, things may happen that could make your initial cohabitation agreement unfair. As a result, you may wish to redraft it. Reasons could include:

  • The birth of a child
  • Illness
  • Redundancy
  • Changes in financial status (eg. switching job, inheritance)

It is also important to note the courts will not treat your cohabitation agreement as a pre-nuptial contract in the event you marry your partner.


I want help drawing up a cohabitation agreement - what should I do now?

To ensure your current cohabitation agreement is legally binding, or if you want help drawing one up, we advise you seek advice from an expert family lawyer as soon as possible.

Our advisors will look at your specific requirements and use that to pair you with the best possible solicitor. That expert can then advise you on the cohabitation issues you should consider when writing an agreement, where you stand legally, and how the court may view it.

Get in touch today to discuss your requirements 08005677866

How to guides

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