At Penderlaw, we can provide you with expert legal advice on cohabitation if you live with your partner without being married or in a civil partnership.

With fewer and fewer couples getting married, the number of unmarried couples living together is increasing.

However, the law in England and Wales does not currently recognise the needs of couples living together if their relationship breaks down.

Even if there are children involved, should a cohabiting relationship break down, there is very little protection for the financially weaker partner, which is more often than not, the woman.

Protection from financial disaster

The key legal difference between married and cohabitation is the financial provision the court can make for the other party when they separate. Cohabiting couples have no such rights, regardless of whether they have children or have lived together for many years or what they may have contributed to the property during the relationship in terms of mortgage payments, maintenance etc.  The only real way to protect yourself from financial disaster in such situations is either to get married or enter into a civil partnership, or to have a cohabitation agreement in place.

Cohabitation agreements

A cohabitation agreement is a legally binding agreement which defines who will pay for what and what will happen to the things you own, should you split up.  This would usually cover the property, savings, and personal belongings.  It would also specify how you would deal with any debts and joint purchases such as a car as well as documenting how any children would be supported. The cost of a cohabitation agreement will depend on how complicated your situation is but we offer Cohabitation Agreements from £1,000 and will provide you with a quote. 


If you die without a Will and are unmarried, there may well be unintended consequences.  In English law, cohabiting partners are simply not recognised, so a surviving partner would not necessarily inherit which could leave them with financial obligations they are unable to meet.

Assistance to ensure protection

The rights of unmarried couples are far more complex than many people think, so it’s vital to seek assistance to ensure you are protected in the event you separate or if your partner dies.


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