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What is a cohabitation agreement?

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A cohabitation agreement is a legal document between unmarried couples who are living together or about to move in together. It outlines what will happen to things like the finances, the property, and children should you decide to separate.

It’s important to know what can be included in a cohabitation agreement as well as your legal rights to decide whether a cohabitation agreement is right for you.

Do I need a cohabitation agreement?

It is not a legal requirement for unmarried couples to have a cohabitation agreement. However, cohabiting couples do not have the same rights as married couples, so a cohabitation agreement can give a couple peace of mind that each person will be treated fairly and can help avoid conflict if they decide to separate.

Cohabitation agreements are not necessarily legally binding, however, if the statements and agreements a couple have made still remain true, then it was likely the court will take this into account should there be any conflict over assets if the relationship breaks down.

What should I include in a cohabitation agreement?

A good cohabitation agreement will cover things such as:

-  How each person contributes to household bills such as rent/mortgage, utilities etc.

-  How joint debts and bank accounts are dealt with

-  How much of a share of a property each person owns

-  What would happen to items you have bought as a couple such as furniture/cars etc. if you separated

It can even cover things such as who will take responsibility for any pets if you separated. It is important for each person in a couple to assess their assets before moving in together and decide how they would like them to be split.

It’s advisable for each person to seek independent legal advice to ensure nothing is left out of the agreement and that each person is being treated fairly, before signing anything.

Buying a property as an unmarried couple

When buying a property there are two ownership options; joint tenants or tenants in common.

As joint tenants, the couple will jointly own that property and both people will be entitled to equal legal rights to it. This means that any decisions made about the property, such as putting it up for sale, have to be mutually agreed by both parties. It also means that each person is jointly responsible for keeping up any mortgage repayments.

As tenants in common, the couple both have a share in the property, which means that each person is entitled to sell their share should they want to move out. If one person dies, they can leave their share of the property to anyone in their will, which means it may not pass directly to the other owner.

There are pros and cons to both types of ownership, so it’s important to understand the legal implications of each and to seek legal advice before making a decision about what’s best for you.

Get legal advice on cohabitation agreements

If you’re considering moving in with your partner and need advice about cohabitation agreements, our cohabitation solicitors have the specialist knowledge to deliver expert advice and help you take the next steps to protect your interests.

Call us today on 020 8017 8962 or fill in the form at the bottom of this page.