Why do you need a cohabitation agreement?
If you are in a relationship and live together, but are not married, have you ever considered what would happen to your savings, home, children, and pets if the relationship ended? You may already know that unmarried couples are not legally protected in the way that a married couple would be should they separate, divorce, or dissolve a civil partnership. So, what is a cohabitation agreement, and do you need one?
What is a cohabitation agreement?
A cohabitation agreement is an outline of an open and honest conversation about what you and your partner would like to happen should the relationship come to an end. It includes the financial aspects of your relationship and set them out clearly, so both parties understand.
What can be included in a cohabitation agreement?
In the agreement, you both can set out in detail who owns what and how your assets will be distributed. This can include the following:
- Property ownership.
- Bank accounts and money.
- Assets such as furniture, cars, jewellery, or other properties.
- Next of kin rights.
- Payment of debts.
- How household bills will be split/dealt with.
- How much each of you will pay toward the mortgage or rent.
Do cohabitants have the same rights as married couples?
The simple answer is no. One of the key purposes of a cohabitation agreement is to create a level of certainty about what would happen if you were to split. Many couples who end up separating after living together end up in bitter disputes because they had no agreement in place about money, businesses, what should happen to property and even children beforehand.
Why should we enter into a cohabitation agreement?
Firstly, a cohabitation agreement can give you a peace of mind that should your relationship come to an end, you will have certainty over what you walk away with.
Your agreement will clearly explain the provisions for a property you own, rented property, household bills and debts, and how you wish to divide any other jointly own property.
Not having an agreement in place means you will be left to organise the division of assets between yourselves, during a time which may be already challenging and sensitive. Generally, it works best to manage these aspects of your relationship while you are both on good terms and looking forward to a life together.
While many people feel that making a cohabitation agreement is pessimistic, it is more like an insurance policy. Having such an agreement in place allows you to move forward in your lives together with confidence and security.
Should I get a cohabitation agreement if we are renting?
Yes, it is still a good idea to enter into a cohabitation agreement even if you are renting your home.
Within your agreement you can highlight who is responsible for the cost of rent, bills, and expenses. You may also have children to consider, either from a previous relationship or children that you have together. While you cannot make provision for care arrangements for children in a cohabitation agreement, it can be useful to manage money matters.