Cohabitation Agreements – Protecting Yourself As An Unmarried Couple

Published: 23rd May 2013

Recent figures now show that that a third of today's teenagers are destined to cohabit rather than marry, compared with one in 10 of their grandparents. The number of cohabiting couples has increased by 65% in a decade and by 2014, married couples could account for less than half of British families.

Over the last decade, the Law Commission has recommended on various occasions that cohabiting partners who lived together for a set period of time should get the right to a share of their home if they separate, regardless of who paid for the property or its maintenance. However, successive Governments have decided against making changes to the law in this way.

Many couples are surprised to find that the concept of a 'common law marriage' is a myth. Left without the formal protection of a marriage agreement, these couples are entering what is known as a Cohabitation Agreement. Such agreements provide a framework for couples who want to live together and protect themselves from unnecessary cost and litigation should their cohabitation break down. They can regulate their property rights and what arrangements might be made for mutual financial support, dealing with debt, caring for children and a host of other issues that come up during a separation.

The obvious advantage of a cohabitation agreement is that it helps clarify financial commitments. Working out who pays for what and how responsibilities are shared in the running of a home all contribute towards a harmonious home life. However, the courts may occasionally change or ignore provisions set out in a cohabitation agreement if they feel that they are inadequate under the circumstances. For this reason it is important to have your agreement set up by an experienced solicitor who can guide you through the potential pitfalls.

This article was written by Kerry Smith, Head of Family Law, K J Smith Solicitors, specialists in family law. K J Smith Solicitors is a legal firm specialising in all areas of family law with extensive experience of dealing with both Non-Molestation Orders and Occupation Orders. They believe that the best results come through proper understanding, practical solutions and prompt action. As specialists, they are responsive and flexible to every single client. Why not contact them today to arrange a free 45 minute consultation. Email them at or call Henley (01491) 630000 or London 020 7070 0330 to find out how they can help you. Their website address is:

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