Cohabitation Agreements

Moving in with your partner is a huge step in your relationship. Whether you plan to tie the knot in the future or not, it is an exciting commitment. However, did you know that unmarried couples do not have as many legal rights as spouses or civil partners? Whatever your plans going forwards, it is worth thinking about whether you need to make a cohabitation agreement to protect yourself.

Our friendly cohabitation solicitors can provide advice about what you can do to protect your financial interests if you are not married or in a civil partnership.

One of your main options is to make a cohabitation agreement (also known as a living together agreement) with your partner that sets out things like:

  • Who owns what in your relationship
  • What property and belongings you share
  • How you will pay household bills, including rent or mortgage
  • How you will arrange joint bank accounts and savings
  • How you will arrange business interests
  • Whether you want your partner to receive your state pension if you die
  • How you will divide your finances if you break up in the future

These agreements can also be used to set out other practical arrangements, such as next-of-kin rights and co-parenting arrangements if you have children.

We know that thinking about what might happen if you break up is not the most romantic way to set out on life with your long-term partner. However, making plans now and getting on the same page in terms of your finances is very important.

Even if you never need your agreement, just having it in place means there is no room for confusion and may even help you avoid miscommunications and disputes during your relationship.

For more general information, read more about how we can protect your unmarried couple rights here.

Advising families throughout Kent and beyond

For practical advice about cohabitation agreements, get in touch with our expert cohabitation lawyers.

We have offices in Tonbridge, Maidstone, Gravesend, Chatham and Tenterden where we can meet you to discuss your requirements.

We can also offer meetings by skype where appropriate. In exceptional circumstances, home visits can also be arranged.

Fixed cost initial appointment

We offer an initial appointment to discuss your requirements at a fixed cost of £95 plus VAT. After that we can arrange flexible payment terms including monthly billing to help you budget.

How our cohabitation agreement solicitors can help

Our inclusive service covers all the advice you as a cohabitee need to move forwards with peace of mind, including:

We have received the Law Society Family Law Accreditation for our high quality legal advice in this area. Avril Croud, a family law specialist with over 30 years’ experience, was one of the first solicitors to ever be admitted to the Law Society Family Panel.

Several of our Family team are also members of Resolution, a network of professionals who are dedicated to helping people find positive solutions to family law issues.

What is a cohabitation agreement?

A cohabitation agreement, also known as a living together agreement, is a contract you and your partner can enter into if you are not married or in a civil partnership. It will clearly set out your financial arrangements and what should happen if you break up in the future.

If you want it to, it can also cover other practical arrangements, such as your co-parenting plan should you ever separate or next-of-kin rights.

Why do you need a cohabitation agreement?

Unmarried partners do not have the same legal rights are married spouses or civil partners, even if you have lived together for a long time and/or you have children.

Have you ever heard of the term ‘common law marriage’? It is actually a myth in the UK – you do not acquire marital rights if you live together for a long time.

However, it is still a common misconception that you can be ‘common law married’. There have been some sad cases over the years where partners who have lived together for decades have split up, causing one partner to lose their home, belongings, pets, even their business, because they legally belonged to the other partner.

In some cases, the partner who lost out may be able to make various property claims, however these can be long, stressful, expensive and there is no guarantee of a positive outcome.

So, even if you have the very best of relationship, it is important to consider what steps you can take to protect yourself, including making a cohabitation agreement.

This is where our friendly, practical cohabitation solicitors can step in. From putting your options into simple, straightforward English to drafting your legal documents on your behalf, we are on hand to help you.

When should you make a cohabitation agreement?

Ideally, you should make your agreement before you move in with your partner. It will help you get all financial matters out in the open and you can work through any issues before you have committed to buying a home or signing a rental agreement together.

However, if you have already moved in together, there is nothing stopping you from making a cohabitation agreement. We approach cohabitation negotiations in a constructive way, based on cooperation and compromise, so it is very rare that disputes will arise as a result of the discussions.

Are cohabitation agreements legally binding?

Cohabitation agreements can be legally enforceable if they are drafted properly and fulfil certain criteria, such as:

  • Both parties should take independent legal advice
  • Both parties must understand the nature of the agreement
  • Both parties must be aware of the agreements contents upon signing
  • The agreement must be entered into voluntarily
  • The parties should intend that the agreement is legally enforceable

How else can cohabitees protect themselves?

A cohabitation agreement is not the only thing you can do to make sure your interests are protected at all times. We can also help you with:

  • Deeds of Trust – if you are buying a property with your partner, we can provide advice about the difference between owning as ‘joint tenants’ (where everything is split 50/50) and owning as ‘tenants in common’ (where you can choose what proportions you own your home in).
  • Making a Will – making a Will is the most important thing you can do to make sure your partner inherits if you sadly pass away. If you do not make a Will and you are not married or in a civil partnership when you die, your partner cannot inherit.
  • Making a Lasting Power of Attorney – make sure that your partner can properly support you and help you make decisions if you lose capacity in the future, for example, because of an injury or an illness such as dementia.
  • Ensuring you have parental responsibility for your children – unmarried fathers and second parents do automatically get parental responsibility (the rights and duties for raising your children). We can provide advice about whether you have it and how to acquire it.

Get in touch with our cohabitation agreements solicitors in Kent and beyond

For practical advice about cohabitation agreements, get in touch with our expert cohabitation lawyers.

We have offices in Tonbridge, Maidstone, Gravesend, Chatham and Tenterden where we can meet you to discuss your requirements.

We can also offer meetings by skype where appropriate. In exceptional circumstances, home visits can also be arranged.