What Do You Need to Include in a Cohabitation Agreement?

What Do You Need to Include in a Cohabitation Agreement?

Starting a relationship is exciting. From your first date to your vacation, there’s nothing more you want than to spend your life with that special someone.

And then you finally decide to move in together. From the wallpapers on the walls to the kitchen cabinets—you’ve planned everything out.

When moving in with your significant other, you may think there’s no need for a formal agreement, but don’t erroneously dismiss the importance of a cohabitation agreement.

In reality, cohabitation agreements are extremely important. While individuals living together aren’t required by the government to sign a contract, it’s extremely important if you want to secure your property and financial rights.

An Insurance Policy for Your Relationship

Statistics show that as of 2017, there are 19 million families living in the U.K, a 15 percent increase from 16 million in 1996. Civil partnerships are the most common type of relationship (3.3 million) after married couples.

While every individual has his or her own reasons to get married or remain unmarried, mutual agreements are the key to successful relationships.

Moving in together does not give you the right to the other person’s property. In the U.K. there’s no concept of “common law” marriages. This means that living together will not give you the same rights as a married couple.

Cohabitation vs. Marriage: the Difference

  1. If a cohabiting partner dies, the other will notinherit their property or the sum of money in their bank account. On the other hand, a married partner will automatically inherit the property and money left behind.
  2. A cohabiting partner who stays at home to care for kids will not be able to demand pension, maintenance, or property.
  3. Cohabiting partners cannot withdraw from their deceased partner’s bank account, whereas, the widowed can.
  4. Cohabiting partners can separate without having to go to court.
  5. Cohabiting partners aren’t obliged to support each other financially.
  6. If a cohabiting partner owns the home both individuals are living in, they are allowed to ask the other to leave without any obligations.

Drafting a cohabitation contract can help you clarify your requirements and highlight your rights. Most couple agree to terms verbally but drafting a contract can make these requirements perusable in court.

What to Include in Your Agreement

You need to be very specific in what you list in the contract. Make sure your partner agrees with you. Here’s what you can include:

  • Who gets custody of children (if there are any)
  • Whether assets or finances will be split after separation
  • Property rights after separation
  • Whether one partner gets access to the joint bank account
  • Whether you can ask for repayment if you’ve given money to your partner

The Benefits of a Cohabitation Agreement

While living together may seem like the ideal deal, it does come with its consequences. While nobody imagines their relationship breaking down, it’s best to be safe than sorry.

Drafting a cohabitation agreement can help protect your rights in many ways. Some of these are:

  • Entitlement of properties and assets in a relationship
  • Distribution and management of properties and finances from current and past relationships.
  • Liabilities for assets.
  • Financial security for children in case of separation.

In Case of Children

If you have children with your partner, things can become chaotic. A cohabitation agreement helps you highlight who gets responsibility and who pays for finances in case of separation.


However, there are requirements for parental responsibility, some of which are:

  • Registering the birth of the child (or you can re-register) with the mother
  • Drafting a parental responsibility agreement with your partner
  • Obtaining a legal responsibility order
  • Becoming the child’s guardian (only applicable if the mother has passed away)
  • Marrying your partner

Your parental responsibility will last until the child turns 18 or gets married between the ages of 16–18. However, both parents are responsible for the financial wellbeing of the child, whether they live together or not. In case the father is not listed in the birth certificate, he is still responsible for the child’s wellbeing and will be contacted by the Child Maintenance Service.

When it comes to same-sex couples, the law still applies and both are responsible for the child.

Furthermore, both parents can appoint a guardian in case one of them dies. In case of heritage, the child will inherit the property and money of both parents if they are unmarried.

In Case of Debts

You are only liable for your own debts and not your partner’s. However, in case of joint purchases, you are also considered liable if your partner is in debt.

But if you are married, you are not liable for any debts accumulated by your partner before the marriage.

Need advice and a second opinion on cohabitation agreements? A trained solicitor can help you careful draft the perfect contract, and guide you about financial management and obligations.

Wembley Solicitors is a UK-based agency, run by a team of experienced lawyers and trained solicitors. They specialise in an array of legal areas including UK immigration, property related insolvency, personal injuries, compensation claims, family law and more.

For more information on cohabitation agreements, call them at 020 3417 3700 and speak to a trained solicitor today!

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