Cohabitation Agreement

Many people choose to live together. Sometimes this is as a couple and sometimes out of economic necessity. Sometimes the property they live in will be owned by just one of them or alternatively by them both but in unequal shares. It is important that the parties take steps to record the arrangements that may exist between them both to regulate ownership of the property and also to regulate the day to day relations between them.

In so far as the ownership of the house or flat itself is concerned this can be dealt with by a trust deed. If the house or flat is in joint names or in the sole name of one party then see Useful links.

In so far as the day to day arrangements are concerned though, you can enter into a cohabitation agreement. This will contain clauses that deal with the following:

  • Ownership of items before the cohabitation begins - you want to be clear that neither party is going to acquire any rights over any assets that the other already has.
  • Ownership of items purchased¬† during the cohabitation - you need to be clear about items that are bought for personal use and those that are bought for shared use - with joint funds.
  • Thirdly you could have a combination of the first two.
  • Establishing a joint bank account to pay expenses from - it is best to have a joint account out of which all the routine expenses can be paid.
  • Credit agreements - dealing with what happens if items purchased for the benefit of both parties are purchased on credit - perhaps in the name of just one party.
  • Life insurance - if there are commitments that are entered into by both parties than it may be appropriate to insure the life of the other.
  • Miscellaneous requirements such as not smoking or not having pets.
  • Arrangements on termination of the agreement - when it comes to an end you need a structure to ensure things are sorted out in an orderly manner.

You can download a template form of cohabitation agreement from us which contains clauses dealing with the above. The template assumes that the parties will share all outgoings equally. There are so many different things that may arise in the course of cohabitation that a template agreement is almost certainly not going to be sufficient without some further modification by you to suit your circumstances. The document will be a Word file so you can alter it as you see fit.

Whilst you can download the document from us you should also give consideration to taking legal advice on it before signing it - you can always give our document to your solicitor or other advisor as a starting point - having first largely set out what you want. This is particularly important if the parties are of unequal bargaining strength - you do not want it challenged in the future by one party claiming that it was entered into under duress or similar - taking separate legal advice at the outset will assist in avoiding such a claim.

Remember that no matter what you put in the agreement it is never going to cover every eventuality. Cohabiting is a big commitment and you have to expect disagreements from time to time. These are best resolved amicably and probably with compromise on both sides. Having to resort to referring to a written agreement should be pretty much a last resort.

If the parties to the agreement get married then the cohabitation agreement is very likely to be superseded by matrimonial law. Further if the parties habitually act in such a manner that is contrary to the terms of the agreement then over a period of time the terms may well be deemed to be varied.

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Documents will download as zipped files and will unzip to Word documents.
You will need a zip utility to unzip the document - Windows XP and above contain a built in utility.
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The documents available on this site have been prepared for use in England & Wales. They may not be valid if used in other areas.