Why do you need a cohabitation agreement?

Couple in love

If you live with your partner, or are considering moving in together, you may have thought about a cohabitation agreement. But do you actually need one? There is, of course, no legal requirement to have a cohabitation agreement to live with a partner, but it can be a useful tool to protect your finances and establish practical arrangements. In this article, I’ll look at why you might want to get a cohabitation agreement and what such an agreement can do for you.

What is a cohabitation agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is basically 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. When considering a cohabitation agreement, you can discuss the financial aspects of your relationship and set them out clearly, so both parties understand.

Do cohabitants have the same rights as married couples?

Quite simply, no. One of the key incentives to enter into a cohabitation agreement is to create certainty. Many couples who have lived together before separating end up in bitter disputes because there was no agreement about what should happen to property, money, businesses and even children beforehand.

Why should we enter into a cohabitation agreement?

Firstly, a cohabitation agreement can protect your financial interests and give you peace of mind that should your relationship come to an end, you will have certainty over what you will walk away with. Your agreement may make provision for a property you own, a rented property, household bills and debts, and how you wish to divide any other jointly owned property.

If you do not have a cohabitation agreement in place, you will be left to organise the division of assets informally, at a time that may already be 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 feel that making a cohabitation agreement is pessimistic, it is more like an insurance policy. Having such an agreement in place can allow 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. In the agreement, you will set out who is responsible for the cost of rent, bills and expenses. You may also own other items together, such as a car or furniture. 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.

To discuss this, or any other family related matter with Vanessa directly, please call 01483 887766, email info@hartbrown.co.uk or start a live chat today.

*This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.  


Vanessa McMurtrie

Partner, Family

Vanessa trained and then qualified as a solicitor in 1991 with Hart Brown working in the Cobham office's family department for a decade. She then...

Vanessa McMurtrie -Partner

Partner, Family

Vanessa McMurtrie

Vanessa trained and then qualified as a solicitor in 1991 with Hart Brown working in the Cobham office's family department for a decade. She then worked for us on a part time consultancy basis while devoting more time to her family. During this period she was instrumental in implementing Hart Brown’s family department’s case management system and later, the quality system that led to the firm’s ISO 9001 accreditation.

In 2005 Vanessa returned to client work and joined Mackrell Turner Garrett where she stayed for ten years, before re-joining Hart Brown in 2015. Vanessa knows Woking and the surrounding area well and enhances the work covered at our Woking office as part of the family team.

Vanessa has been a Resolution member since 1991, committed to resolving disputes in a non-confrontational and constructive way. She has served on the Surrey Resolution committee since 2008. She is a Resolution accredited collaboratively trained lawyer and welcomes the opportunity to help separating couples adopt this process as an alternative to the more traditional options available.

Over the years, Vanessa has gained a wealth of experience in dealing with the legal aspects of personal relationships, not just those coming to an end, but new relationships, too, where a pre-nuptial or cohabitation agreement is required. She prides herself on being approachable and understanding as she helps her clients go through the legal process.