Many couples assume that because they are not married there are no legal consequences of cohabiting. However, this is not always the case.

Legal rights do arise as a consequence of cohabitation and the partner who is not the legal owner of a property may be able to establish a legal interest in certain circumstances including the length of the cohabitation, improvements to the property, the intention of the parties to name a few.

Before moving in I would advise couples that communication is very much important.  A frank and honest conversation before cohabiting can minimise misunderstandings further down the line as to the legal and financial situation.

I would also advise cohabiting couples to be clear at the very beginning what financial contributions to running the property will be made and if they are intended to provide a legal interest in the property.

It is possible for cohabitees to enter into a legally drawn up Cohabitation Agreement. A Cohabitation Agreement provides unmarried couples with the clarity and certainty that they need.  A Cohabitation Agreement can address:-

  • Ownership of the property.
  • How you pay your rent, mortgage or other household bills.
  • Your finances such as what happens to any joint accounts or pensions.
  • Division of household items in the event of separation even down to who gets the dog.

There is scope to add other clauses but these must not become too trivial such as who does the household cleaning!

Cohabiting during coronavirus for most couples may be a temporary stage until the lockdown is lifted. For those couples who choose to cohabit permanently, legal advice and an upfront conversation can potentially save some heartache and financial stress further down the line. 

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Contact Pam and the family law team on 03333 580393 or email


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