Cohabitation agreements

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Cohabitation agreements and rights on separation

The law relating to people who live together is different to those who are married. Your actual cohabitation rights will be very different from those of married people. This can lead to confusion and worry if the relationship should end.

Royds Withy King Family Department are highly recommended in the “The Times Best Law Firms” 2019 survey

A cohabitation agreement drawn up by our expert team is one way of securing your future if you and your partner go your separate ways.

Helping you understand your cohabitation rights

Whether you are moving in with a new partner and want to make sure you’re prepared for the future, or you’re at the end of a relationship and trying to ease the process of moving apart, it is essential to understand your cohabitation rights.

Ideally you’ll have a cohabitation agreement in place when you move in together as a couple. It sets out the terms on which you will live together regarding income, property and belongings. It can be straightforward to draw up and may protect your long-term interests.

As couples that live together do not have the same law applied to them as a married couple, it is important to get specialist advice about the financial consequences of separating from your partner.

Frequently asked questions about cohabitation

I am moving in with my partner, does this mean I have the same rights as a married couple?

The simple answer is ‘no’.  There is no such thing as a common law spouse and cohabiting couples do not have the same rights as married ones, regardless of the number of years they have been together.

What is a cohabitation agreement?

Unmarried couples can protect their position by entering in a ‘cohabitation agreement’ which sets who owns what and in what proportion.  The agreement can document how you will split your property, its contents, personal belongings, savings and other assets should the relationship break down.  It can also be used to set out how you and your partner will manage your day-to-day finances, such as how much each contributes to rent or mortgage and bills, whether you will take out life insurance on each other, and so on.

Is a cohabitation agreement legally enforceable?

A cohabitation agreement is a contract between the couple.  It can be legally enforceable provided certain formal requirements are met and provided it is not unfair to either of you and does not prejudice the rights of third parties, including your children.  To maximize the chances of enforceability, you and your partner should both take independent legal advice.

We can advise you about the way to maximize the enforceability of your agreement in your particular circumstances.

The Family team's credentials

What the team is known for: Highly experienced at taking on financial remedy cases. Focuses on settling issues through collaboration or mediation where possible, and through litigation if necessary. Active representing guardians in public law care proceedings. Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients): “They are highly skilled and committed professionals who work incredibly hard and diligently for their clients.” “They provided an excellent service in a very straightforward and non-technical way.” Notable practitioners: Richard Ellis (Band 2) enjoys a strong reputation for his public children expertise, and is also skilled at taking on matrimonial finance cases. He is hailed by one commentator as “phenomenally good and a great advocate.” Sharon MacDonald (Band 3) frequently represents high net worth clients on alternative dispute resolution proceedings, such as mediation and collaborative law, associated with complicated finance matters. One client reports: “She was very thorough – all the paperwork was correct down to the minutest detail. She obtained a wonderful result for me.” Jon Toogood (Eminent Practitioner) handles matrimonial finance issues in the context of divorce cases, and is a skilled arbitrator and collaborative lawyer. One client praises his “excellent technical knowledge, very good commercial awareness and very good bedside manner.” Katherine Lauder is a Recognised Practitioner.” Chambers 2017 South West

“What the team is known for: Well-known team in the Oxford market, with substantial experience in divorce and financial remedy matters involving complex assets. Also advises on public law children cases, including those involving allegations of non-accidental injury. Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients): “A really good outfit, and universally likeable.” Notable practitioners: Mark Phillips (Band 3) is experienced advising in divorce and financial remedy matters, especially those involving complex assets such as pensions and business interests. One source says of him: “He is very intellectually able, and has a pleasant, persuasive way about him.” Head of the Oxfordshire family team Simon Bassett (Band 3) is particularly active in matrimonial finance cases. One source reports: “I’ve been really impressed with his ability to think creatively around the financial cases, and to look for solutions that aren’t obvious.”” Chambers 2017 Oxford and Surrounds

“Royds Withy King is ‘one of Bath’s leading family law firms’ for collaborative law and mediation, and department head Richard Ellis has ‘a fantastic reputation’ in care proceedings. Also recommended are Sharon MacDonald and Jon Toogood, and newly promoted senior associates Katherine Lauder and Rebecca Stevens.” Legal 500 2016 South West

Simon Bassett is ‘a consistent high performer, particularly in matrimonial finance’. Legal 500 2016 South East

At a very difficult and stressful time, I was made to feel at ease with their knowledge, reassurance and friendly, proactive outlook. I would have easily been persuaded to continue an impossible and damaging situation if it had not been for their help, advice and constant support.
Royds Withy King - family team

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