Family Law News

Cohabitation agreements – Is marriage on the decline?

Recent data has revealed that the percentage of over 16s in England and Wales that are married or in a civil partnership has fallen below 50%.

The Office for National Statistics estimates the percentage to be 49.4%.

It is becoming increasingly popular for couples to decide to live together, rather than enter into a
marriage or civil partnership.

But what rights to cohabitee couples have?

Many people often refer to cohabiting couples as being in a ‘common law marriage’.

However, contrary to popular belief, in the UK, cohabiting couples do not have the same rights as married couples.

Should you wish to have peace of mind following the breakdown of a cohabiting relationship as to what should happen to the property and any personal assets, you should consider entering into a cohabitation agreement.

What is a cohabitation agreement?

Cohabitation agreements are often entered into by cohabitees who want to regulate their financial and living arrangements, not only during the period of cohabitation but in the event the relationship breaks down and cohabitation comes to an end.

Entering into a cohabitation agreement provides the cohabiting couple with peace of mind that they have agreed matters from the outset, and should avoid the need for costly and protracted litigation in the event cohabitation comes to an end in the future.

A cohabitation agreement records each party’s rights and responsibilities in relation to the property where they live and financial arrangements between them.

It can also be used to record ownership of personal property (including items such as cars or furniture) which may be used or enjoyed by both cohabitees during the period of cohabitation, but are to be retained by the owner if cohabitation ends.

Many people also benefit from a cohabitation agreement if they have decided to pool their financial resources and purchase a property to live in together.

The property that a cohabiting couple occupy could be rented, owned solely by one cohabitee or owned by both cohabitees in equal or unequal shares.

A cohabitation agreement can clearly set out what is to happen to the property in the event of a future relationship breakdown and the cessation of cohabitation.

Please do not hesitate to contact our expert Family Law Team at Marsden Rawsthorn on 01772 799600 in the event you require any advice or assistance with regards to cohabitation agreements.


Article by
Lauren Townson,

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