6 Things To Include In Your Cohabitation Agreement


The Law Of… Protecting Your Future

There's been a big change in how we've been living over the past few decades.  

More and more couples are choosing to cohabit, with around 3.3 million couples in the UK currently in this living situation.

But, since cohabiting couples don't have the same rights as married couples, is there any way that you can protect your assets if things don't work out?

Paul Foster, Partner in Family Law, explains how a clear and concise cohabitation agreement might be the perfect solution for couples.   

What Is A Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement (which is also called a living together agreement) is a helpful legal document in which you and your partner can set some ground rules on how your possessions can be divided if you decided to split up.

You also have the option of making the agreement legally binding, and if you decide to do this it's crucial that you get independent legal advice.

What Can We Include In A Cohabitation Agreement?

The good news is that you can make your agreement as personal and detailed as you like, and include the things that matter to you.

If you're not sure what your agreement should cover, here are some useful points to think about including:

  • The role of the cohabitation agreement – do you want this document to be used as a guideline on how your assets should be shared if you separate or do you want it to be legally binding? Making this decision at the very start can save you both a lot of stress and upset later on if you're having trouble agreeing on certain things.
  • How the rent/mortgage or household bills will be split – if you're moving in together soon, you can make it clear how your household expenses – like the rent, mortgage or bills – will be paid. 
  • What will happen to your property if you split up – if you and your partner bought the home you're living in together, it's worth having a chat about what would happen to it if you end your relationship. You could, for example, consider whether one of you would be willing to buy the other one out. Or, if one of you owns the property, you can draw up an agreement that explains whether the person who doesn't own the property will have any interest in it. The agreement can also set out whether the person who doesn't own the property is happy with not having any kind of interest in it – this can stop litigation from happening later on.
  • The fate of any objects or new property you've bought together – whether you're thinking buying something substantial – like a home or furniture – or you already have, it's worth making a decision on how your purchases will be split. This is also helpful when it comes to anything that has sentimental value.
  • How inheritance will be shared – although it's not the kind of discussion any couple enjoys having, you should think about what would happen to your possessions if either you or your partner pass away. As well as a cohabitation agreement, a will is the best way of making sure that your wishes are fulfilled. If you have children, it's also a great way of making sure that your possessions are passed on to them. 
  • Guidelines on how to resolve any disagreements – if you and your partner already find it hard to compromise or easily agree on things, it's a good idea to plan ahead. If you make future purchases, you could always amend your agreement to include them.

How Can Simpson Millar's Family Lawyers Help Me?

Things in relationships can change quickly and sometimes unexpectedly. The last thing that separating couples need is to worry about is potentially losing assets that they have contributed to during their relationship.

Cohabitation agreements offer you both security and peace of mind about where you both stand in the relationship if things don't work out.

If you need some help drafting a cohabitation agreement or you'd like to review an existing agreement, speak to our Family Law solicitors. We can offer you advice as well as make the changes to your agreement, ensuring that they're straightforward and unambiguous.

To speak to one of our experts, call us on 0808 129 3320 or fill out our online enquiry form and we will get in touch with you.

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