Personal Law

New Year, New You - Cohabitation Agreements, What Are They?

December 18, 2018

THE NEW YEAR IS HERE! Many couples, like you, are thinking of moving in together. Living with a partner, or cohabitation, is becoming the most common family type in the UK. Official statistics show the number of cohabiting couples has almost doubled from 1.5 million in 1996 to 3.3 million in 2017. Many family speculators believe that this number is set to take a sharp rise in the not too distant future.  Although society has progressed, the laws in relation to cohabitation have remained stagnant. Some may be surprised to hear, cohabitees do not have the same rights as if they were married or in a civil partnership. This can relate to for example finances, property and Wills.

A number of cohabiting partners are opting in to the idea of cohabitation agreements. A cohabitation agreement is a legally binding contract which partners, who live together, can enter into. A cohabitation agreement’s purpose is to set out what each party would receive should they separate. This can range from property, finance and even regulate contact and holiday with children.  A cohabitation agreement can be used to record levels of contribution to the relationship now and in the future. It’s even possible to record who pays which bills, who pays for childcare and even who takes out the bins! A cohabitation agreement can be a very flexible tool to help your relationship run as smoothly as possible.

Cohabitation agreements can be used to provide certainty in the future. The versatility of a cohabitation agreement can extend to ownership of property. For example your partner begins living with you in the property you own but do not want to provide your partner with an interest in your home, a cohabitation agreement can be used to cement this issue. Another example may be you and your partner are both contributing to the purchase of a property but in unequal shares, you may wish to put an agreement in place recording the shares. However, it is always sensible to consider a Declaration of Trust. A cohabitation agreement in this respect can save valuable time and legal fees in the case of a dispute.

With society changing, and legislators dragging their feet in reforming the law, a cohabitation agreement can be a very smart investment for committed couples and couples who have unfortunately grown apart.

It is always best to have a solicitor advise and prepare a cohabitation agreement. If you are a new couple embarking on your lives together or a couple who are now separating and are thinking about your rights and agreements, then please contact our family team on 01795 472291 to discuss all of the possible options available to you.