Insights -

Cohabiting Couples – Your Rights When Living Together But Not Married

In 2023, the landscape of cohabiting couples and their challenges upon separation continues to evolve, with a persistent and hotly debated issue being the ownership of and respective interests in their shared family home. The importance of cohabitee rights in this context cannot be overstated.

Today, in the realm of cohabitation, it remains a recurring scenario where one party asserts that the legal ownership of the property does not accurately represent the true nature of their ownership. This can happen for various reasons, including the property being registered in the name of one partner while the other claims a substantial interest.

In some cases, even when the property is jointly owned, one partner may strongly believe that their stake should be more substantial based on various contributions and commitments over the course of the relationship. This article will explore the rights of cohabiting couples in the UK, including how to navigate property disputes and protect individual interests effectively.

Navigating property disputes with a cohabitation agreement

When there’s no concrete documentation or written agreement regarding the living arrangements, the court is often left with the challenging task of conducting an extensive investigation into the intentions of both parties concerning the property, a process where cohabitee rights come into sharp focus.

This process entails revisiting and dissecting discussions, financial contributions and lifestyle choices that transpired years ago. This forensic analysis inevitably comes with a significant price tag in terms of legal expenses, causing added stress and financial strain for all parties involved.

For couples choosing to cohabit in 2023, it’s advisable to consider entering into a well-structured cohabitation agreement at the outset of their living arrangement. Such an agreement can provide clarity on multiple fronts and help to safeguard the rights of both parties involved.

Benefits of cohabitation agreements

Cohabitation agreements are a vital way to protect your rights if you are living together with a partner but not married.

Firstly, it can explicitly outline the ownership shares, taking into account each partner’s financial contributions, both initial and ongoing, as well as non-financial contributions such as homemaking and child-rearing responsibilities.

Secondly, it can address practical arrangements in the unfortunate event of a relationship breakdown, including cohabitee rights regarding property disposition. These provisions may include determining whether one party will have the first opportunity to buy out the other’s share of the property, as well as specifying the process for selling the home and dividing the

Protect your rights with a cohabitation agreement

It’s crucial to understand that, while a cohabitation agreement is not legally binding on the court, it serves as a clear and compelling record of the parties’ intentions, creating a solid foundation for resolution. In a legal landscape that often grapples with ambiguity and subjectivity, having such an agreement in place can significantly streamline the resolution process, ensuring fairness and upholding cohabitee rights.

Cohabiting couples should recognise the importance of addressing property ownership and related matters upfront through a cohabitation agreement. This proactive step not only offers legal protection but also promotes clarity and fairness in an era where relationship dynamics continue to evolve.

By taking this approach, couples can mitigate potential disputes, reduce the financial burden of litigation, and ultimately navigate the complexities of modern relationships more smoothly.

If you have any legal questions about the breakdown of a relationship or cohabitee rights, please do not hesitate to contact our family team by emailing [email protected] or by calling 01737 854500.


Although correct at the time of publication, the contents of this newsletter/blog are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute, legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article. Please contact us for the latest legal position.

Back to listing
Print Share
More from this author

Insights - 21/03/2024

The Power of Prenups

Insights - 01/12/2023

Divorce in Longer Marriages

Insights - 08/11/2023

Benefits Of A Prenup