Cohabitation (living together) agreement
- Solicitor approved
- Plain English makes editing easy
- Guidance notes included
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About this cohabitation agreement
If you are unmarried and your relationship breaks up, you really are on your own. Whether your relationship is a long-term intimate one or simply a short-term living together arrangement, the law gives you no special rights. We discuss this further here.
This cohabitation agreement helps you to work out and set down all the practical arrangements that need to be covered when two people who are neither married nor civil partners, form a household. It helps you to set down all the arrangements that you need, both now and on a future separation.
We include optional paragraphs to allow you to sever a joint tenancy (if you own your property together) and to become tenants in common.
This document does not try to tell you what is best for you, but to steer and guide you into considering and dealing with the most important issues. It covers arrangements about your joint bank accounts, home, business assets, who owns personal property, banking and money arrangements - and even provisional child support arrangements (which are not binding in law but would be taken into account by a judge).
The agreement can be used at any stage of living together before marriage. If you get married or enter a civil partnership in the future, the status of the document changes. It becomes like a pre-nuptial agreement. The effect is that if you then separate at some future date, the court will take this document into account, but will not be bound by it.
Example situations in which this document would be used
- You are a couple living together unmarried who wish to buy a house with each other. One will contribute more towards a deposit, but the mortgage will be in both names. Among other issues, you want to set out what will happen to the house if you break up: what share each will own; who will live in it; or whether it will be sold and on what terms.
- You have moved in with someone else who already owns a house. You want an arrangement where you contribute to her mortgage equally (instead of you paying her rent), but in return, you want to have a share of the value of the property assets in case of a relationship breakdown.
- A friend has moved into your house. He has agreed to pay the utility bills and household expenses instead of paying rent. You want to make it clear that your house remains your property and that he is not a beneficial owner in any way.
- Your partner has outstanding debts. You want to make sure that if you separate, you won't be liable to repay them.
- You want to make sure that your long term partner cannot claim financial support or maintenance payments for living expenses should you separate. (Note that he cannot anyway, but by setting out an agreement in writing he is less likely to challenge you).
- You have moved in with a flatmate and both of you have agreed to buy furniture and white goods for the property. You want to set out who owns what when you go your own way and what happens to joint property.
- You own a business and you want to be sure your partner has no claim to a share of it, even if he works with you in it.
Making this cohabitation agreement legally binding
This document does not require any special action after you have edited it. It will be binding on both sides as you both sign and date one copy (although we advise that you print, date and sign two copies so that you both have one).
Your completed document will continue to be valid until you are married or a child is born.
What file format is the document in?
We use DocX format. Most word processing software can read it. If you ask us, we can convert a document to other formats for you as well.
Can I change add and delete paragraphs and change how it looks?
Yes. You can edit the document as much as would like. Our detailed guidance notes help you decide what to edit, from adding or removing paragraphs to simply changing fonts and colours.
When should we write a living together agreement?
A cohabitation agreement can be put in place at any time. Many couples do so just after they start to live together, and realise that practical matters need to be considered.
Importantly, an agreement should be reviewed whenever there is a significant life event such as buying a property together, having a child, inheriting money, a change in financial status, or personal injury.
If you later decide to get married or enter into a civil partnership, your cohabitation agreement can be used as the basis for a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
Does a solicitor need to review or approve the document, or witness me signing it for it to become binding?
You will often read that each partner needs to seek independent legal advice before signing the agreement. The reason for this is that, like any other family law document, a living together agreement is only enforceable if both partners entered into it freely and knew the implications of signing at the time.
Independent legal advice is not a requirement, but rather protects against the risks that you might not know what you are signing up to, or that your partner later claims that he or she did not. Whether you take it or not is very much a decision for you, based on the risks you perceive to exist.
If you would like reassurance that the document will achieve what you intend, then our lawyers can review it before you sign it and bring your attention to any matters you might have missed.
Once I have signed it, do I need to register it or have it notarised?
No. Both sides should simply keep a signed copy safe for future evidence of what was agreed.
- How you deal with your house or flat
- Keeping your own business property
- Separate ownership of assets
- Banking and financial arrangements
- Living expenses
- Finance and borrowing
- Children arrangements - now and on termination
- What happens if the relationship ends
- Division of capital assets
- What one of you might pay to the other for self and children
- If one of you dies
- Explanatory notes and guidance
This document was written by a solicitor for Net Lawman. It complies with current English law.
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