My partner and I live together – do we need a Cohabitation Agreement?

An increasing number of couples are choosing to live together without formalising the relationship by getting married.

Cohabiting essentially brings the same responsibilities and lifestyles as those experienced by married couples, children, a mortgage and other financial commitments – but beware, cohabiting brings fewer legal rights than being married.

Not many people consider the implications of a separation when starting out on a relationship and the natural progression to setting up home with a partner. But it’s important to think about the future and put a plan in place for the benefit of all concerned.

The breaking up of a relationship is difficult enough to deal with – an emotional upheaval which could be made worse by an increasingly deteriorating relationship, confrontation and acrimony.

By talking the issues through with a partner at an earlier stage of the relationship you may be able to limit these problems and come up with something which can be agreed by both parties. You will then want to formalise these arrangements in the form of a Cohabitation Agreement.

How does it work?

Before a Cohabitation Agreement can be drawn up, both parties must agree to enter into it and each person will ultimately need to sign it. Once agreed and signed it must be kept up-to-date with any major future life changes being made to the agreement at the appropriate time.

A Cohabitation Agreements should also be considered by people not in a romantic relationship – such as friends who buy property together. Splits still occur in these circumstances and it’s a good idea to have a clear plan in place that all parties fully understand.

What should be included in the agreement?

The agreement can include anything pertaining to living together: How finances are shared, including mortgage, rent and general household bills, other assets including property which may have been purchased as a joint-venture while living together or owned prior to the relationship starting.

You will want to think about any disposition of pensions and joint accounts, arrangements concerning next of kin, what happens to the children and provision for illness, death and separation. It is also important to put affairs in order through the making of a will. This can be done alongside your Cohabitation Agreement and, again, needs to be kept up-to-date.

Who do I speak to for advice?

NjP has developed a highly respected reputation over many years in acting for clients in the area of family law. We are in the best position to advise and then implement your wishes in the most efficient way possible.

A new relationship is a joyful experience as you set out on a future life together and it may appear negative to be thinking about a separation almost before your journey begins, but it is a prudent thing to do and ensures the interests of all parties are secured.