Unmarried Couples Protect Yourself with a Cohabitation Agreement

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Unmarried Couples Rights and Protecting yourself with a Cohabitation Agreement

Cohabiting couples make up the fastest-growing type of family in the country, according to the Government’s Women and Equalities Committee.   Their results show that there are now 3.4 million cohabiting couples in England and Wales. However, these cohabiting couples have less legal protection in the event of death or separation than those who are married or in a civil partnership. According to the Committee, there is a widespread perception that unmarried couples have the same rights as married couples do but this is not the case.

The Importance of a Cohabitation Agreement

The Committee is now calling on the Government to improve the rights of cohabiting partners and they are investigating the issues and how changes might be introduced. While this is going ahead it may mean changes in the future, but if you are currently cohabiting you may like to protect yourself by drawing up a Cohabitation Agreement, which is a legal document between unmarried couples who are living together. It sets out the arrangements for finances, property, and children while you are living together and what happens if you separate, become ill, or die. Although you can make an agreement at any time, it is good to do it before you move in together or if you decide to have children or get a mortgage. Without one, you do not automatically have rights like married couples,  even if you have lived together for a long time and have children. So, having a legal cohabitation agreement can be useful, alongside a will, if one of you becomes seriously ill, dies or you separate. It will protect you both, and any other family members who may be affected. An agreement can make sure you have a share of each other’s assets and next of kin rights in a medical emergency. A cohabitation agreement can also help you divide bills and other responsibilities while you live together.

What to Consider

You and your partner should look at your assets and discuss how will want them to be divided. Your assets could include property, investments, pensions, and savings.

Our family lawyers can help you prepare a cohabitation agreement and make sure it is legally binding. You will also need to gather relevant documents for us.

When you contact us, we will ask you if you rent or own a property and whose name the property is in and whether you have done any property improvement that either of you has paid for. We will ask you about the value of your assets and both of your earnings. We will also ask about your family situation and whether you or your partner have any children.

We may suggest one of you gets advice from a separate solicitor before signing the agreement. This makes sure it protects both of your interests and reflects what you both want. We will be able to advise you how long the process should take, and we can advise you about making a will if you have not already made one.

Cohabitation agreements can also be made between people who are not romantically involved – for example, friends or siblings who live in a house together.


The cost of getting an agreement can vary depending on your circumstances. However, remember you may have to pay much more in legal fees if something goes wrong and you do not have a cohabitation agreement.

Change of circumstances

If your circumstances change, for example, you have children, buy property together or move to another country, contact your solicitor. We can advise you of any changes you may need to make to your agreement, which may not be legally binding if you do not update it when your circumstances change.

For more information and to make a Cohabitation Agreement or a new Will, contact our experienced team of family lawyers on 01492 874774/596596 today.