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Living Together

Cohabitation refers to an unmarried couple living together.

Cohabiting couples are the fastest growing family-type in the UK. Despite this, they face very little legal protection when they separate. We help cohabitating couples secure their future through cohabitation agreements, and provide the best legal advice to those ending their relationships with or without one.

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What rights do unmarried couples have when they separate?

Currently, unmarried couples have no automatic legal rights when they separate. If a relationship breaks down, there is very little protection for either partner. You will have no automatic claims to the finances of your ex-partner and vice versa, even if you have children together. 

This applies whether you have been together 2 years or 30 years. For example:

Partner A moves into Partner B’s property. Partner B is the sole owner of the property. The couple live together and separate after 10 years. Partner A has no automatic claim to Partner B’s property. This is the case regardless of whether the couple have children or not.

Partner A may be able to establish an interest in the house under the Law of Equity, or seek some provision for their children under the Children Act 1989. However, they will need specialist advice about this and success is not guaranteed.

This is why it is extremely important to do as much as you can to protect your position if you are an unmarried couple living together.

What can you do to protect your position if you separate?

If marriage or civil partnership are not an option for you, there are several things that you can do. These options can help protect your position now, and when you or your partner dies:

What is a cohabitation agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is a document which states what you both intend to happen if you separate. It can be completely bespoke. As well as financial matters, it can also cover arrangements for your children, and even pets.

You can also use the document to state how you and your partner plan to manage your day-to-day finances whilst you live together (for example, how much you each contribute to the rent, bills, etc).

A cohabitation agreement is not legally binding. However, they provide clear evidence of your intentions if you split up, and can be persuasive in a court of law. They are the best thing that you can create to protect yourself in an unmarried partnership.

Our solicitors are experts at creating cohabitation agreements and can provide you with the best advice. We offer free initial advice – call us on 01244 312306 to make an appointment today.

Declaration of Trust Deed:

If you are purchasing a property with your partner, it is beneficial to create a Declaration of Trust Deed. The deed is a binding agreement which confirms how much of the property each partner owns. It confirms how the proceeds of sale will be divided when the property is sold. If the property generates income, it can also specify who the income is paid to and in what proportion.

It is especially valuable if:

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Make a Will

If you die without making a Will, your ex-partner will not automatically inherit your assets, as a spouse or civil partner would. If you want your partner to inherit your assets when you pass away, you should see a solicitor to make a Will.  

What can you do if you cannot agree what happens during separation?

If your relationship has ended, or you are thinking of ending a relationship, we can provide you with comprehensive, sensitive advice. If you cannot come to an agreement with your ex-partner, we can talk you through your options and even represent you in court, if necessary. 

If your relationship breaks down, we are here to advise you on how to protect your interests. If any of these matters affect you, please contact the family department on 01244 312306, or by emailing us at


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Ask the legal expert
for just £180

Get in touch

Ask the legal expert

for just £180