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How do I obtain a Cohabitation Agreement?

View profile for Joanne Druce
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Change may be on the way.....

There are more than 3 million cohabiting families in the UK.  

Why do you need a cohabitation agreement?

Unfortunately, unlike married couples, cohabiting couples do not have the same legal rights in respect of finances, property and children.  A cohabitation agreement may help you and your partner if you are cohabiting and want to protect your position in areas of your relationship.  

Are cohabitation agreements legally enforceable? Do cohabitation agreements hold up in court?

A cohabitation agreement is a legal document between cohabiting couples which sets out arrangements for finances, property and children whilst living together, in the event of a separation, one becomes ill or dies. They are not strictly legally enforceable in court however they are seen by the courts as an indication of how the parties intended to own and distribute their assets should their relationship irretrievably break down. Cohabitation agreements are seen as persuasive to the courts and will add weight to your argument.

If there is no cohabitation agreement - What happens to my interest in my property if I split up from someone I co-habit with?

If your relationship  has already broken down and there is no cohabitation agreement in place, then disputes regarding your interests in a property are determined in accordance with strict principles of property and trust law which can be complex.

What is the current law with co-habiting couples?

Currently the claims of cohabiting couples are very limited in comparison with spouses or civil partners. In March 2019 the Cohabitation Rights Bill received it's  second reading in the House of Lords.

Members of the Lords, including the Shadow Attorney General and a former director of the Mansion House Group, discussed the key principles and purpose of the Cohabitation Rights Bill. 

As this is a private member's bill that affects the public it must go through the same set of procedures as other public bills in order for them to be made law.

During the reading members of parliament discussed a range of subjects covered by the bill, including:

  • the enablement of the courts to adjust the financial position of cohabitants whose relationship has ended
  • the definition of cohabitants as either a same-sex or opposite-sex couple who have lived together for three years and/or have at least one child together
  • the legal right of cohabitant siblings to form a civil partnership

This Bill, if enacted as law, will provide certain protections for persons who live together as a couple or have lived together as a couple as cohabitants which they do not currently have. It will also make provisions about the property of deceased persons who are survived by a cohabitant; and for connected purposes

We are currently waiting for the date for the next stage.

For more information on the Cohabitation Rights Bill please click here

If you wish to enter into a cohabitation agreement or you are going through a dispute with your former partner then please contact our family team, Tiina Juhanson, Laura Hanford & Kaylee Justham.