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What is a cohabitation agreement?

Cohabitation agreements are used by people who live together to record their legal and beneficial ownership in their shared property and to regulate their financial and living arrangements, both during cohabitation and if they ever cease to live together.

The parties to the agreement do not have to be in a romantic relationship, but they can be. Often, cohabitation agreements are used by couples who have decided not to marry or enter into a civil partnership. The property concerned can be rented, owned solely by one cohabitee, owned by one or more cohabitees together or with a third party, or owned jointly by cohabitees in equal or unequal shares. Whatever the situation, it can be written into the agreement.

Having a cohabitation agreement in place and discussing each person’s rights and obligations at the outset of living together can help parties to avoid the personal negativity, cost and uncertainty of litigation if cohabitation ends. Cohabitation agreements can help to provide a sense of reassurance and financial security for the parties. For example, provisions can be put in place for financial support for the former partner if the relationship ever ends, particularly if they have children together.

There is some uncertainty about whether the terms of a cohabitation agreement will be upheld and enforced by the court, however, the general view is that if the cohabitation agreement is properly drafted as a legal contract, then it is more likely to be enforceable. Cohabitation agreements can be a complex area of law and therefore if you wish to discuss this further we would advise that you speak with one of our specialist family solicitors.

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