Cohabitation Agreements & Why You Might Need One

Monday, February 27, 2023

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Moving in with your partner is an exciting time. I have just moved in with my boyfriend, and life seems like a dream. But sometimes, issues occur, and relationships break down. It’s not something we want to happen, but it is something we can plan for. If you’ve moved in with someone recently, here is everything you need to know about cohabitation agreements and why you might want to consider one.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is a legally binding document for unmarried couples or people living together. It sets out what happens to your finances, the house and your belongings if you split up or have a falling out and no longer live together. For example, it helps you divide up joint bank accounts/savings accounts, gifts and more. You can arrange these agreements with a solicitor at any point. I recommend doing one before or as you start to live together. I’ve been told it is better to arrange them when you’re on good terms and want the best for each other rather than after things start to turn. Cohabitation agreements are protection for your personal assets. They list that the things you came into the agreement with are things you’re coming out with. I recommend having one, even if you are in love and will be together forever. No one wants a relationship to end, but sometimes things happen. It may be for the best. You can also add a clause so that once married, the agreement can be terminated.

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Why Cohabitation Agreements Can Be Useful

With everything, there are ups and downs. It can be expensive, unromantic and time-consuming, but they do have your best interests at heart. Cohabiting finances can be complicated, and with an increasing number of unmarried couples living together, these agreements are something to consider to clear the air. Here are some of the benefits of having these agreements drawn up. I’m not a legal professional, so it’s always best to speak to experienced family law solicitors like Atkins Dellow to discuss your options, as there are many benefits to having a cohabitation agreement:

  • If one partner has more assets than the other, it can protect both of you
  • It can help you to talk about finances
  • You know what is happening to your assets in the event something happens
  • There is more financial security for you both
  • Ensures that you are both treated fair if your relationship breaks down
  • They can help you improve your communication with your partner

Things You Should Know Before Arranging One


They take a lot of thought – No one wants to think worst-case scenario. But in the unfortunate event, you split up with your partner, you want to be protected. This means a lot of thought needs to be put into your agreement. For example, it might cover which fixtures and fittings you get to keep, how quickly you have to notify your partner about leaving the agreement and what happens to the house. There are many things to consider and different scenarios you might want to cover. This means it can also take a lot of time. Be prepared for the back and forth between your solicitor!
It can be expensive – Depending on who you’re going with, your cohabitation agreement can be quite expensive, and each party will need their own solicitor. The same firm can't act for both of you. The cost can quickly add up. That being said, I think it’s worth the investment because if your relationship does break down, you are both protected. I think that’s invaluable.
It can be overwhelming – When moving out, you have so much going on. There is a lot to do, like fitting blinds, sorting utilities and planning where to put everything. It’s a long process, and it can be emotional to decide all these things. Take the time to speak to your roommates/partner about what you both want from the agreement and decide things together. Knowing you aren’t in the process alone can make it not so overwhelming.

A cohabitation agreement isn’t something to take lightly, but it’s also not something to skip when you’re moving out for the first time. The initial cost may be expensive, but it can be worthwhile if things turn sour. I know many people who have these agreements in place to protect themselves in the worst-case scenario. It’s something to consider if you’re moving out for the first time! What are your thoughts on cohabitation agreements? I’d love to hear if you have one, what your experience was and if you’d recommend having one.

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