Buying a property with your partner: have you considered a cohabitation agreement?

15 November 2023 Family Law Rachael MacDonald

Moving in with your partner can be an exciting and significant milestone in a relationship. But as well as considering who will put the bins out every week, if you are one of the 3.6 million people cohabiting in the UK (i.e. living with your partner but not married to them), then it is important you think about the future and consider what could happen to you in the event of a breakup.

Cohabitation agreements provide protection and clarity for both partners in the event of a separation. It is a legal document that is designed to protect the rights and interests of unmarried couples who are living together and can address the division of property, and other issues, should the relationship break down. It can also regulate the financial arrangements during your cohabitation.

You can put a cohabitation agreement in place at any time but it's best practice to do it before you move in together, especially if you are purchasing a property together. Putting a cohabitation agreement in place provides you with financial certainty, ensures you maintain control over your affairs, and minimises the scope for future dispute in the event of a separation. Remember also that these agreements should be updated regularly to reflect changes in the relationship or circumstances, e.g. if one partner receives a significant inheritance or if the couple decide to have a child, it would be sensible to review the original cohabitation agreement to see if any changes are necessary.

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