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Advice for cohabiting couples

"professional and approachable" - Chambers & Partners

Living Together

3.3 million UK households now include couples living together i.e. couples who are not married or in a civil partnership. According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of cohabiting couples has doubled in the last 20 years. 

It can come as a shock to many cohabiting couples to discover that they do not have the same legal rights as married couples or couples in a civil partnership, even when the relationship has lasted many years. This can often cause difficulty if the relationship ends or if one of the partners dies, especially if there is property involved. 

A cohabitation agreement is one of the most effective ways to minimise problems in the future for couples living together. A standard agreement sets out:

  • who owns what at the beginning of the relationship;
  • your financial arrangements while you are living together; and
  • how property will be divided if the relationship ends. 

A cohabitation agreement is particularly important if the couple’s main home is owned by only one of the couple and if one has considerably more in assets than the other. 

The fee to advise on and draft a straightforward cohabitation agreement is usually £500 including VAT, but we would always agree any fees with you at the outset, especially if we felt your needs were complex.

Making a will should also be a priority for cohabiting couples with shared property. Find out more on our wills, probate and trusts pages. 

Getting Married?

Should you decide the time is right to marry or enter a civil partnership, Burnetts can advise on pre-nuptial agreements . 

Splitting up?

Further information on how we can support you through a separation can be found on our divorce and separation pages . 

If you would like to know more about cohabitation agreements or any other aspect of your legal rights whilst living together, Burnetts’ family lawyers offer the first meeting (of up to one hour) at a heavily discounted rate of £120 including VAT. (Payment needs to be made either before or immediately after the appointment.) Appointments are available at our offices in Carlisle, Penrith, Cockermouth and Newcastle. 


Who to contact

Simon Mortimer profile photo

Simon Mortimer

Simon is a Partner and leads the Family Law team at Burnetts.