Cohabitation Agreements

A Cohabitation Agreement is a document that an unmarried couple living together can have drawn up to help clarify financial commitments should there be difficulties in the relationship or the relationship breaks down.

At Crombie Wilkinson, we specialise in helping individuals across North Yorkshire secure their future and get the best out of life. In modern times, it is common for couples to live together, in some cases for many years, before getting married or entering into a civil partnership (if they choose to take that step at all).

However, while cohabitation is a normal and accepted part of everyday life, the law has yet to catch up. There is no such thing as a “common law marriage” in England and Wales. This means that cohabiting couples do not acquire the same legal rights as married couples during their relationship.

There have been several high profile legal cases over the years that involve individuals being left in financial difficulties after a breakup because they had no legal rights to their partner’s property. We can help you avoid this scenario and safeguard your future by entering into a Cohabitation Agreement with your partner.

A Cohabitation Agreement may not be something you want to consider at the outset of your relationship, but it can be a vital way to protect your financial interests. It can also be a way of providing clarity as to what you both want and remove anxiety early on in your relationship.

Our Cohabitation Agreement solicitors understand that talking about the possibility of breaking up can be awkward and unpleasant. We aim to create an open, welcoming environment so you feel comfortable talking about your relationship needs and expectations with us and your partner. Our family law team includes a qualified mediators and collaborative lawyers who can help you talk through the issues calmly and cooperatively.

Get in touch

For advice about making a Cohabitation Agreement to protect your future interests, give us a call at your local Crombie Wilkinson branch in York, Selby, Malton or Pickering.

Alternatively, please fill in our general enquiry form and a member of our team will be in touch in due course.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A Cohabitation Agreement is a document you can create with your partner to set out how you own your money and property, how your finances should be arranged, and what should happen if you break up in the future. It records arrangements between two or more people who have agreed to live together, as a couple or otherwise.

For example, you can set out matters like who should carry on living in the family home, who should get ownership of your pets, how the bills will be paid, and who owns what pieces of furniture.

You can also use your Cohabitation Agreement to set out matters like arrangements for children and next of kin rights.

How our Cohabitation Agreement solicitors can help

Unfortunately, the phrase common law husband or wife means nothing in legal terms. If you want to make specific provision for the property, children, ownership of individual assets or property etc then a Cohabitation Agreement could be a document you look to have drawn up.

We are committed to helping you and your family safeguard your future. Our client-centred approach to family law means we will keep your best interests at heart at all times. When you choose Crombie Wilkinson, you will automatically become a member of our Client Club, which demonstrates our commitment to delivering an excellent service for you. We guarantee to keep our Service Pledge in mind at all times during your matter, including listening carefully to your needs, responding promptly to your correspondence, and providing clear, flexible payment options for our fees.

When drawing up your Cohabitation Agreement, we will ensure it fully reflects your expectations and has the best possible chance of being upheld in court. 

Many of our clients are concerned that making a Cohabitation Agreement could create issues in their relationship. However, in our experience, talking about financial affairs early on is more likely to help a couple’s relationship become stronger because once they come to an agreement, they can continue their relationship fully confident that they are on the same page.

If you do think there will be any difficulty coming to an agreement, we can provide methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution such as family mediation to help you sort matters out.


We offer a family mediation service parallel to our work as family law solicitors. We are proud of our friendly, sensitive approach to a wide range of family law matters, including Cohabitation Agreements.

We are members of the Law Society Family Mediation Accreditation. Our team includes qualified mediator, Chris Myles. Chris is accredited by the Law Society and Resolution for his mediation expertise.

For more information about mediation, feel free to visit our Family Mediation – What is it page.

What rights do unmarried couples have?

Unlike married couples and civil partners, unmarried couples have fewer rights in relation to each other.

What is the purpose of a cohabitation agreement?

A Cohabitation Agreement is often entered into by cohabitees who are beginning a new relationship to safeguard their own financial security, in some cases to protect a future inheritance for their children. They are increasingly relevant for second marriages or relationships where one person may already own a home pre-dating the relationship.

If you make a Cohabitation Agreement, you can set out exactly how you want to arrange your finances and other matters in case you break up.

This can provide you with peace of mind that your financial security will be secure, regardless of what happens in the future.

Setting out your arrangements and expectations in writing can also help you and your partner avoid stressful disputes if you do ever break up. Cohabitation Agreements are not technically legally binding, but a court is likely to uphold your Agreement if certain requirements are followed when you make it.

What should a cohabitation agreement include?

We can discuss with you exactly what you would like your Cohabitation Agreement to cover. Usually it will include things like:

  • How the rent or mortgage will be paid
  • How the household bills will be paid
  • Property and assets, either acquired before or during the relationships and who owns what
  • Arrangements for pets
  • Arrangements for children
  • Next of kin rights
  • How and when the property is to be sold
  • Ownership of joint and separate property if cohabitation comes to an end

When drawing up the contract it is important to include in it a statement of the purpose of the contract, how long the contract lasts for and how often it will be reviewed to make sure it is up to date and correct for both parties wishes.

Are Cohabitation Agreements legally binding?

For an agreement to be valid:

  • Both parties received independent legal advice
  • Both parties signed the Agreement – both parties need to sign two copies and keep one each
  • Both parties understand the nature of the Agreement
  • Both parties are aware of its content
  • Both parties intended for the Agreement to be legally enforceable
  • Neither party was under duress to sign the Agreement
  • Neither party was induced into the Agreement due to misrepresentation
  • The agreement needs to be in the form of a deed
  • It needs to be kept up to date for major life changes

Get in touch with our cohabitation solicitors

For advice about making a Cohabitation Agreement to protect your future interests, give us a call at your local Crombie Wilkinson branch in York, Selby, Malton or Pickering.

Alternatively, please fill in our general enquiry form and a member of our team will be in touch in due course.


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