Cohabitation agreements – what are they?

Rebecca Higgins Blog

What are Cohabitation Agreements?

Cohabitation agreements set out the arrangements between people who agree to live with each other and in particular they confirm each party’s rights and responsibilities regarding the property and/or assets within the property. Cohabitation agreements can be useful for unmarried couples, to outline what is going to happen financially, should parties separate.

It is important to be aware that there is very limited protection for cohabitees outside of marriage unless you enter into an express agreement as “common law husband and wife” does not exist in Law in England and Wales.

Why should I consider entering into a cohabitation agreement?

There are multiple reasons that cohabitation agreements should be considered, the main reasons being as follows:

  • You can minimise the cost and uncertainty of litigation, if any dispute arises as to how the property is to be split following separation. Any dispute, unless you have children, will be heard in the Civil courts, rather than Family courts. Unfortunately, this can mean that disputes often become lengthy and costly. The courts also only have the power to order sale of the property, meaning that they cannot order one party ‘buy the other out’, if this is what you are hoping to take place. Having a cohabitation agreement can avoid these costs and an outcome that neither party wants.
  • The agreement can be used to outline who will occupy the property following separation, sale conditions (i.e. sale price, how proceeds of sale are to be split etc) and who will make payment of household expenses during this time. Having this outlined from the beginning will hopefully avoid any unnecessary conflict.
  • Cohabitation agreements give parties the flexibility and freedom to organise their own finances how they want to.
  • Agreements can be used to preserve assets. For example, they can confirm that one party is to receive more from the proceeds of sale, if they paid more towards the deposit and they can ensure that family money is protected, such as where parents have gifted monies towards the house purchase.

At Barnes Clark Family Law, we can offer assistance and guidance in drawing up cohabitation agreements. We are specialists in our field and will ensure that you are provided with expert and up to date advice.

For further information, or to arrange an appointment please contact us on 01274 861096 (Liversedge) or 01423 637272 (Harrogate) or email enquiries@barnesclarkfamily.law. Please note that we offer a free half an hour consultation.