19 June 2024

What Is A Cohabitation Agreement? | Is It Legally Binding In The UK?

Cohabitation agreements are important agreements for unmarried couples who live together or intend to live together in the future.

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What is a cohabitation agreement?

Cohabitation agreements are important agreements for unmarried couples who live together or intend to live together in the future.

It is a document which forms an agreement that incorporates which party owns what and in what proportions, financial contributions/responsibilities during the cohabitation and their intentions on how assets, finances, properties and children are to be dealt with should their relationship break down.

The agreement can include, for example, ownership of property, deposit on the home, bank accounts, assets (cars, furniture etc) debt payment, pets and also pension assets.

Why should a cohabitation agreement be in place?

If you are living together but unmarried or not in a civil partnership, then there is no law that protects each individual party, as cohabiting relationships do not have the same legal rights as married couples or those in a civil partnership.

A cohabitation agreement, therefore, can provide security to the parties of the relationship. It will enable there to be a clear understanding of financial commitments and avoid misunderstandings regarding rights and responsibilities, in an attempt to mitigate any disputes should the parties separate.

The agreement essentially aims to protect parties in the event of the relationship unfortunately breaking down. Within the agreement, it can be made clear how the assets that the parties came to the relationship with are to be dealt with and clearly evidence their intentions.

It is also an important agreement when there is disparity in the financial positions of the parties of the relationship. For example, a parent may be a stay-at-home parent with no income and the property and income therefore may be solely from the other party. A further example being one party providing a large deposit when purchasing the property.  There is the potential that the weaker party could be left with nothing; however, a cohabitation agreement can be drafted to reflect their contributions in helping look after the home and raising children.

The cohabitation agreement is, therefore, imperative in ensuring that the joint intentions of the parties when setting up a home are enforceable, and both parties are adequately protected.

Is a cohabitation agreement legally binding?

There are conditions that must be complied with in order to ensure the validity of the agreement so that it is legally binding.

These are as follows:

  • The agreement must be entered into voluntarily
  • The agreement is in the form of a deed
  • Each party must sign the agreement
  • The agreement must be reviewed in light of any significant life changes

It is also important that both parties are open and honest about their financial position when drafting the agreement and that each obtains their own independent legal advice.

Can a cohabitation agreement be overturned?

Whilst it is intended that cohabitation agreements are legally binding contracts, , there may be occasions where they can be overturned. For example, difficulties may arise where they are insufficiently drafted and executed properly, are not signed as a deed or the parties decide to marry. There may also be occasions where the parties no longer require a cohabitation agreement in place, owing to changes in their relationship. This area of law is complex and should you wish to discuss this matter further, please contact us for further information.

Can I update my cohabitation agreement?

A cohabitation agreement can be changed once it has been created. It is good to keep it updated as your relationship changes or if anything significant happens in your relationship. For example, the birth of children or if you decide to marry. If you are intending to make any changes to your cohabitation agreement or there have been changes to your relationship, please feel free to contact our family law specialist for advice tailored to your needs.

How can I get a cohabitation agreement?

A family law solicitor would be able to help form a cohabitation agreement, ensuring it is drafted and executed to be legally binding. Our experts at Kew Law would be more than happy to assist in the preparation of such an agreement – get in touch for more information.

Speak to us today for specialist advice

Kew Law has a dedicated and experienced team of family law solicitors, who can provide you with specialist advice and the drafting of a Cohabitation Agreement.

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0800 987 8156