Dutton Gregory Banner Image

We’re here when you need us

Cohabitation Agreements

It is very common for unmarried couples to move in together, and while this can be an exciting prospect, unmarried couples do not have the same legal rights as those who are married. Our cohabitation agreement solicitors can offer the advice and support you need to protect your interests and finances as an unmarried couple.

Cohabitation agreements are vital where one party is contributing a larger share of the contribution towards the purchase price of a property, or if a parent or family member is loaning or gifting money towards the purchase of a property.

In the absence of any written document, then where a property is held in joint names, the starting presumption is that all equity in the property is held equally. Likewise, where a property is held in one party’s sole name the starting presumption will be that all of the equity belongs to that party.

Cohabitation agreements, also known as living together agreements, can also set out child arrangements, in addition to each party’s property and assets, and how these will be handled in the event of separation, illness or death. 

There is no such thing as a ‘common law spouse’ or ‘common law partner. Living with a partner does not mean an interest in any property where the couple may live.

At Dutton Gregory Solicitors, our family law solicitors have a wealth of experience in cohabitation law, having assisted a wide range of clients from all backgrounds and circumstances, including those with children and clients with significant wealth to protect.

Our expert legal team recognise that no two situations are the same. Should you choose to appoint our solicitors for your cohabitation legal needs, we will provide a personalised service. Our lawyers will take the time to understand your circumstances and needs, then tailor our advice to align with these.

The team will also be able to advise on any claims arising out of the breakdown of cohabitation. 

Our cohabitation agreement expertise

Our cohabitation solicitors can provide sound expertise on matters such as:

  • Cohabitation rights
  • Drafting a cohabitation agreement
  • Negotiating the terms of a cohabitation agreement
  • Enforcing a cohabitation agreement during separation

Get in touch with our cohabitation agreement solicitors

To discuss your cohabitation agreement legal needs, please get in touch with our expert solicitors in Bournemouth, Chandler’s Ford, Poole, Winchester and Woking.

To arrange an initial consultation, you can contact your nearest office using the links above or fill in our quick enquiry form and we will get back to you soon.

How our cohabitation agreement solicitors can assist you

Cohabitation rights

When a couple chooses to move in together, or already live together and wish to protect their financial interests, it is often worth considering the preparation of a cohabitation agreement. The purpose of the agreement is to regulate what will happen in the event of separation, illness or death. Whilst a cohabitation agreement can feel unromantic, it is very practical and can mean a great deal financially. 

At Dutton Gregory, our cohabitation solicitors will walk you through your legal rights as a cohabitee and the entire process of acquiring and enforcing a cohabitation agreement. We will take the time to carefully explain what a cohabitation agreement is, what it commonly includes, and the benefits and limitations it provides cohabiting couples.

Drafting a cohabitation agreement

If you have sought independent legal advice and wish to make a cohabitation agreement, having the assistance of a solicitor can provide invaluable.

Our cohabitation lawyers can ensure that your full financial position is included, and that the agreement is properly drafted. We will ensure that the terms set are in your best interests as well as those of any children you or your partner may have.

Negotiating the terms of a cohabitation agreement

You may find that your partner presents you with a cohabitation agreement that they want you to sign. Should this be the case, seeking legal advice from a professional lawyer is crucial to protect your interests.

Our cohabitation solicitors at Dutton Gregory will take the time to carefully assess the proposed cohabitation agreement. We will make sure that the terms align with your needs and that you would not be negatively impacted should the agreement need to be enforced. Should you have any queries or concerns about the agreement and how it could impact you, we will be happy to address these.

In some instances, the terms your partner has set may not be in your best interests. Should that be the case, our team can pursue negotiations with your partner and their appointed solicitor, finding terms that are suitable to you both. This is often done through private negotiation and mediation.

Enforcing a cohabitation agreement during separation

If your relationship sadly comes to an end and you have a cohabitation agreement in place, our solicitors can provide assistance. We will assess your position and see if the terms of the agreement are still applicable. If your circumstances have remained the same, we can help enforce the agreement and ensure your rights and interests are protected.

Our cohabitation dispute solicitors can also assist with any disagreements that may arise during the separation of a couple.

Frequently asked questions about cohabitation agreements

Are cohabitation agreements legally binding?

Yes, a cohabitation agreement is classed as a legally binding document between an unmarried couple so long as the agreement is formatted and drafted correctly. Both parties must have acquired independent legal advice from a chosen lawyer prior to signing. 

Can I write my own cohabitation agreement?

There is nothing within the law that prevents individuals from writing their own cohabitation agreement. However, it is worth noting that, for a cohabitation agreement to be classed as legally enforceable by the courts, it must be properly drafted. The parties are required to seek independent legal advice from a solicitor.

Despite anyone being able to write a cohabitation agreement, this is not the recommended route. It is highly encouraged for cohabitees to seek the assistance of a solicitor who will be able to effectively draft a cohabitation agreement the correct way. A solicitor will assess any terms and ensure that the agreement does not negatively impact you should it need to be enforced during divorce, illness or death.

What should be included in a cohabitation agreement?

Cohabitation agreements aim to cover many aspects of cohabitees’ lives, ensuring that all financial aspects are considered in addition to arrangements for children.

Examples of the typical elements covered in a cohabitation agreement include:

  • Property owned – whether this is property owned solely or jointly
  • Sole and joint assets – savings, investments, bank accounts, personal possessions, pensions, etc.
  • Household bills – who has a responsibility for paying them and what share each party is required to pay
  • Inheritance and Wills
  • Child arrangements

What rights do I have if my partner owns the house?

If a cohabiting couple live together, but only one of them owns the property they are living in, the person named on the title deeds will be the only one with legal rights to the home.

There are certain situations where the party who does not own the house may be entitled to a share of it. For example, in instances where they are contributing money towards the property with the understanding that this will secure them a beneficial interest. This would be under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act (TOLATA), however the onus to prove this would be on the person who is seeking a financial interest.

If both parties own the home as joint tenants or tenants in common, they will both have rights towards the property should the relationship break down. If there is no written document, the starting presumption is that they own the property in equal shares.

Do cohabitation agreements stand up in court?

Whether a cohabitation agreement stands up in court entirely depends on how the agreement was drafted, including if it was properly done and whether the involved parties initially sought independent legal advice before signing the agreement.

If these conditions are met, then in most cases, the court will consider the agreement to be legally binding and it will stand up in court. It is, however, important to seek professional legal advice to ensure the document is well drafted and covers all eventualities.

Why choose our cohabitation agreement solicitors?

Real relationships of value

Our cohabitation agreement solicitors at Dutton Gregory are committed to our clients and their needs. When you instruct us about your cohabitation agreement matter, you will find our team to be friendly, approachable, and always available to assist. We believe in creating professional relationships that last for a lifetime.

Personal service

At Dutton Gregory Solicitors, we are aware that no legal matter is the same, with each couple having their own unique circumstances. For this reason, our solicitors will ask you to walk us through your background and situation. This allows us to provide a service that is completely tailored to you and your needs.

Solicitors you can rely on

Our solicitors have an outstanding reputation for the expert advice and guidance they provide to clients both nationally and overseas from our offices across Surrey, Hampshire and Dorset. We approach all types of family law matters with the utmost sensitivity. We understand that, in some instances, these types of cases can be emotionally challenging and complex.

Throughout your legal matter, our family law team will always be available to answer any queries or concerns you may have about your cohabitation agreement. We will inform you at each stage of the process, so you are aware of everything to expect.

Our cohabitation agreement services’ fees

The team at Dutton Gregory understand that the prospect of legal fees can often feel a little daunting. For this reason, we aim to provide competitive fees, with a variety of funding options available. We will take the time to understand your legal needs, allowing us to base our fees on your circumstances as far as possible.

Most cohabitation agreement matters are fairly simple to navigate. In many cases, individuals simply need advice and the drafting of a cohabitation agreement. In such situations, the team may be able to offer our services on a fixed fee basis.

Some cohabitation agreement matters can be more complex and contentious to handle. For example, where a dispute occurs during the enforcement of a cohabitation agreement. In situations like this, our solicitors may decide that additional legal support is required to obtain the desired outcome. Should this be the case, an hourly rate may be more suitable.

Get in touch with our cohabitation agreement solicitors in Surrey, Hampshire and Dorset

To discuss your cohabitation agreement legal needs, please get in touch with our expert solicitors in Bournemouth, Chandler’s Ford, Poole, Winchester and Woking.

To arrange an initial consultation, you can contact your nearest office using the links above or fill in our quick enquiry form and we will get back to you soon.