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Cohabitation agreements: how do they work?

21 June 2023 Written by Owen White Catlin Solicitors Category: Family Law

A cohabitation agreement is a document setting out arrangements for property, children and finances between an unmarried couple who live together should the couple split up, fall ill or pass away.

It is a good idea for unmarried couples, or even people who will live together non-romantically (e.g. siblings, friends), to get a cohabitation agreement sorted before they move in together.

Reasons to consider a cohabitation agreement

Even if you have lived with your partner long-term, you do not have the same rights as a married couple should issues arise. Having a cohabitation agreement would give you peace of mind in stressful situations, such as one partner getting ill, passing away, or the couple deciding to split up, and there are children involved.

Some things a cohabitation agreement ensures you would have should something happen include:

  • a share of each others' assets
  • access to each others' state pension
  • in a medical emergency, next of kin rights 

Things to consider before getting a cohabitation agreement

It is a good idea to sit down with your partner and discuss the division of assets. These assets could be:

  • pensions
  • savings
  • investments
  • property 

Costs involved

Depending on your situation, establishing an agreement can vary in cost. This might cost anywhere from £300 to £4,000. You can get a free estimate from a lawyer, and it pays to shop around and compare prices and services.

If something goes wrong and you don't have a cohabitation agreement, you can end up having to pay substantially more in legal fees.

If your circumstances change

If circumstances change after you have a cohabitation agreement, don't worry. If you have had children, moved country, or bought property together - inform your solicitor, and they will advise you of any changes to be made to the agreement.


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