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What is a Cohabitation Agreement and do I need one?

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What is a Cohabitation Agreement and do I need one?

Cohabitation Agreements can be used to protect a couple’s assets and clear up any uncertainty regarding shared assets in separation.

But is it worth the time and money spent to put one in place?

In hthis article, Simon Immins answers this question and outlines everything you need to know about Cohabitation Agreements.

Do cohabiting couples have rights?

For unmarried couples, simply living in the same home does not give you the same rights as a person who is married or in a civil partnership. In the eyes of the law, you are not ‘bound together’.

For this reason, there may be some uncertainty regarding shared assets as to who would get what if you were to separate. This could, in turn, give rise to claims and difficult disputes.

To protect assets, clear up uncertainty and mitigate claims, it is recommended that you protect your assets.

Related: Unmarried Couples - How to secure your living together rights

How do you protect your finances if you are not married?

There are a couple of ways that a couple can protect their finances and property if they aren’t married. One being a Declaration of Trust, the other being a Cohabitation Agreement.

We define each of these and look at which is better below.

But first, if you're married and looking for advice on property split and names that aren't on the deeds, you can read our seperated article here.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A Cohabitation Agreement (or ‘living together arrangement’) is a document that details all the financial and living arrangements, for both the present and future, between you and your partner.

It essentially:

  • Arranges you and your partners assets, setting out ownership
  • Outlines what financial responsibilities you will have to each other in the event of a break-up
  • And describes how joint assets, such as property, cars etc, will be distributed if you were to split-up

Are Cohabitation Agreements legally binding?

If properly drafted and prepared in the correct way, then yes – a Cohabitation Agreement will be legally binding.

Is a declaration of trust the same as a Cohabitation Agreement?

A Declaration of Trust (DoT) is a legally binding document which sets out each person’s contribution towards a property, and outlines how it would be split in separation.

A DoT is not the same as a Cohabitation Agreement, the main difference being that it deals with property ownership only; whereas a Cohabitation Agreement includes all financial assets.

Read more about declarations of trust in our dedicated article here.

What should be included in a Cohabitation Agreement?

You can include as much or as little information as you choose as the document is bespoke to you. Below we’ve listed some common inclusions.


  • How the property is owned
  • What percentage each person has
  • Whether there are any stipulations such as the repayment of a deposit
  • Who owns what fixtures and fittings (white goods, furniture etc)
  • Who is responsible for which utilities and outgoings


  • How personal assets are to be divided in the event the relationship breaks down or one of you dies
  • How debts accrued during the relationship are to be dealt with, i.e. sole or joint liability
  • Whether there is an intention to provide financial support during the relationship and/or following the breakdown of the relationship
  • What procedure should be followed in the event of a breakdown of the relationship

An agreement should also include how and when variations to the agreement can be made, the circumstances that invalidate the agreement and how any disagreement will be resolved.

What are the advantages of a Cohabitation Agreement?

Cohabitation Agreements have a whole host of advantages, which we’ve listed below:

  • You determine what to include or exclude within the Agreement
  • You include as much or as little information as you choose
  • The aim of the document is to detail the agreed financial arrangements between you so as to prevent any potential litigation in the event the relationship breaks down or death
  • You both have a clear understanding of your expectations, including what your duties and obligations to one another will be

What are the disadvantages of a Cohabitation Agreement?

Cohabitation Agreements are usually legally binding, but if you have not taken advice from the outset, you could find that you have agreed to something that you did not want or understand. 

If that happens, you would then need to have another document to rectify any errors or omissions, but if these are not agreed, you could incur significant legal fees in trying to resolve the issue.

For this reason, we’ll always recommend you take legal advice.

How long does it take to get a Cohabitation Agreement?

This will depend on the complexity of the agreement and the parties involved, but this type of agreement can be concluded within a matter of weeks.

When should you get a Cohabitation Agreement?

You can enter into a Cohabitation Agreement at any time during your relationship, but in order to prevent any issues or arguments, you should ideally address the matter before you move in together or at the time you are purchasing a property.

Does a Will override a Cohabitation Agreement?

Typically speaking, Cohabitation Agreements deal with matters in life, whereas a Will deals with matters in death. 

However, much will depend on the content of the Cohabitation Agreement, how it has been drafted, and whether there are any issues of debt or monies owing to the person who has died. 

It is always advisable to seek legal advice before entering into a Cohabitation Agreement.

How much does a Cohabitation Agreement cost in UK?

A Cohabitation Agreement is a bespoke legal document prepared to your specific instructions and situation; the associated cost will therefore depend on your particular circumstances and how detailed you want the agreement to be.

If you would like to discuss your particular circumstances with us, you can do so over a free initial chat. Call us on 01202 499255 to find out more.

Do you need a solicitor for a Cohabitation Agreement?

Because of the legal nature of Cohabitation Agreements, it is always advisable to have a solicitor prepare the document for you.

Cohabitation Agreement Solicitors

At Frettens, our specialist Cohabitation Agreement Solicitors can assist you in drafting an agreement that reflects your best interests.

We’ll always make sure that you fully understand what you are agreeing to and will explain everything in plain English.

If you’re looking to have a Cohabitation Agreement created, or have any questions following this article, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

We offer a free initial chat for all new clients. Call us on 01202 499355 to find out more.

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The content of this article, blog or video is not intended as specific legal advice. For tailored assistance, please contact a member of our team.