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It is a common misconception that unmarried couples have the same financial rights against each other on the breakdown of the relationship as married or civil partnered couples do. Sadly, the myth of the “common law spouse” is just that, a myth and cohabiting couples rights are in fact, very different.

The financial claims that can be made by cohabiting couples are significantly less than those of married couples as explained here.

How can a Cohabitation Agreement help?

A Cohabitation Agreement is a legal document that regulates a cohabiting couple’s rights and interests.

Cohabitation Agreements are excellent wealth-preservation / planning tools with no adverse tax consequences and are often used:

  1. when one person may have inherited or been gifted funds to purchase a property and wants to protect those funds from any future claim by their partner in the event of the breakdown of the relationship.
  2. when two people are making a financial contribution to a property they intend to purchase;
  3. when one person already owns a property and their partner is moving into that property; or
  4. when a property is owned by one person but their cohabiting partner intends to make a capital contribution to the property without becoming a joint legal owner of it.

The agreement defines how any direct or indirect financial contribution to a property will be made by a partner and sets out what share (if any) they would receive in the event of a relationship breakdown.

Without a Cohabitation Agreement, there is a risk that the partner may claim an interest in the property into which he or she has moved without making any financial contribution. This can lead to costly and lengthy litigation to resolve and, ultimately, if the partner’s claim is borne out, it could lead to the property being sold and them receiving a share of it.

What are the benefits of having a cohabitation agreement?

The benefit of a Cohabitation Agreement is that it defines each person’s rights to a given property and can stipulate how any financial interest in that property will be satisfied in the event of the breakdown of the relationship. It can also govern how parties will (i) contribute to their living costs during the relationship, (ii) divide any chattels and items built up during the relationship, (iii) meet liabilities during the relationship and (iv) it can also crucially make clear what assets are to be ring fenced and protected from any potential claim by either party in the future in the event of the breakdown of the relationship.

Whilst a Cohabitation Agreement cannot preclude future litigation, in the event there is a disagreement on the breakdown of the relationship, it provides a clear legal contract between the parties as to how the assets will be divided which, barring exceptional circumstances, should be taken into account by a Court.

Our clients enter into Cohabitation Agreements in order to provide the following:

Clarification as to how their financial affairs are conducted during the relationship.

Certainty as to what their financial interests and claims against the other person will be in the event of the breakdown of the relationship.

Protection to protect and preserve assets built up, inherited or gifted prior to a cohabiting relationship and to ensure those are ringfenced from any future claim in the event of the breakdown of the relationship.

Rayden Solicitors

Our dedicated Family Law Agreements Department has extensive experience in drafting these agreements. Our experience has been cultivated, not only over decades of drafting such agreements but, moreover, from our significant knowledge and understanding of the consequences of relationship breakdown / litigation.

We can provide straightforward advice that will help you identify whether a Cohabitation Agreement is appropriate for you and what terms should be included in that Agreement. We are sensitive to the emotional side of negotiating an agreement. We have experience in drafting these Agreements for clients from all walks of life, including those who have international links or assets abroad.

Our Cohabitation Agreement Solicitors

Julian Bremner


“Julian has a great knack of deciphering subjective ramblings and putting a very succinct and objective communication together. He takes an extremely pragmatic approach based on case histories, the law, client input and data.”

Robert Micklem


“Robert is very reassuring and concise in his explanation of the law and legal process.”

What will the process involve

Whether you are the person wanting to draft the cohabitation agreement or you have received the draft agreement from your partner, you will need to have a meeting with a solicitor to take specialist advice on the law surrounding such agreements, the impact of such an agreement on your rights and the specific terms of the agreement. This meeting will usually last 1 to 2 hours.

Following the meeting we will either draft the agreement or amend an existing agreement based on the points discussed.  We will also prepare a detailed letter of advice explaining the agreement to ensure that you fully understand the implications of it. Once the agreement is in an agreed form it will be sent to your partner’s solicitor for them to review. There may then be some negotiations as to the terms and drafting, which will need to be resolved.

Once the agreement has been approved by everyone, it will need to be signed by all parties and the advising solicitors.

A network of independent legal advice

A key requirement for a Cohabitation Agreement is for each person to receive independent legal advice. We are often recommended by other firms to provide independent legal advice and equally we work with many solicitors and law firms across the country and we can make recommendations as to whom your partner may wish to consult to obtain independent legal advice.

This network ensures that both parties will receive sensible and correct advice which will ultimately make the process as uncontentious and easy as possible.

Rayden Solicitors is committed to equality and diversity and in doing so supports and advises all members of our community.

If you consider that you may marry or form a civil partnership with your partner, take a look at our Prenuptial Agreement page.

We are here to make things easy

If you would like to arrange a first meeting or have any questions, please contact us or fill in the enquiry form below.

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