A cohabitation agreement between two partners can set out what happens to things like children, possessions and debts should a relationship end.
It might seem a little formal, but two people who plan to live and share their lives together without marrying or having a civil partnership may find a cohabitation agreement beneficial down the line.
But it’s essential to know how to put one together, and how make it all legally binding. This guide can help with both.
If you don’t want to take on all the responsibility of writing a cohabitation agreement yourself, the family law solicitors at First4lawyers can give you any help you need.
What is a cohabitation agreement?
A cohabitation agreement is a document that protects your rights as a couple, and secures the rights of the individual. People who aren’t married or in a civil partnership do not have the same rights in the eyes of the law as those who are, which can cause problems.
Broadly, a cohabitation agreement will determine factors such as loan repayments, child support, asset ownership, and income support.
Legally, no matter how long a couple have lived together, or whether they have children together, there is no obligation for any kind of support or agreement to be made if they separate. A cohabitation agreement can go some way to covering these kinds of issues.
How to write a cohabitation agreement
There are no official forms to fill in for a cohabitation agreement – you just need to write a document. You should include things like:
- Names and address – This helps to prove that you both are the original writers of the document.
- Financial circumstances – This should include your salary, assets (such as homes and cars), and any debts (including credit cards and mortgage).
- Children’s details – Note their names and birthdays, who the parents are, who will care for the children after a break up, and how childcare will be paid for.
- Home details – It’s important to explain in the document who legally owns the home, and what you want to happen if you break up. This could include selling the home (and how to split the profits), or one person moving out with the other living at home.
- Expenses and debts – This is particularly important for those who have joint bills, loans or bank accounts. Detail how any debts and bills will be paid.
- Savings – How will joint savings be split? Explain that here.
- Ownership of items – You can’t list every item in your home, but the agreement can detail how items will be split. Include details such as “Gifts shall remain in the possession of the recipient.”
- Large items – This section should mainly cover items such as cars, and who will own what in the event of a break up.
- Pensions – List details of every pension owned, and how the pension should be split in the event of a break up.
- Renegotiations – You should include a renegotiation date, such as revisiting the document every five years to ensure nothing needs to be changed.
- Sign and date – The document needs to be signed and dated by both partners.
Is a cohabitation agreement legally binding?
The agreement isn’t set in stone. However, courts and solicitors generally take the agreement into strong consideration when dealing with break-ups, especially when legal consult was taken while writing it.
It’s also important to ‘SIGN AS A DEED’, because a deed has much more legal withstanding than a simple document.
A cohabitation agreement shouldn’t be used as a replacement for a will, however. It’s essential that you still create legal documents in the case of death, as the cohabitation agreement will only cover events in the case of a breakdown of the relationship.
Need further legal advice?
If you want to discuss the legality of a current cohabitation agreement, or you’re looking for advice for writing one, the specialists at First4lawyers can help. With extensive experience in family law of all kinds, you can contact First4lawyers to receive a no-obligation callback about your situation.
Note: First4lawyers offers this information as guidance, not advice. Before taking any action, you should seek professional assistance tailored to your personal circumstances and not rely on First4lawyers’ online information alone.