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Are you in a relationship with someone and intend on moving in together?

Are you curious as to what will happen to your finances if you were to separate?

Are you wondering if you have the same rights as married couples?


Amelia Smith is a Trainee Solicitor in the Family Team here at Wollens and has put together this helpful guide – Please see the Q&A below which may assist in answering the above questions and more.


What is it known as when you are in a relationship with someone and live together but are not married?


If I was to separate from my partner (unmarried), do I have the same financial claims as married couples?

No, not even if you have lived together for a long time and have children

What can I do to protect my assets before moving in with my partner?

Consult a solicitor and ask them to draft a cohabitation (or living together) agreement.

What is a cohabitation agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is a legal document between unmarried couples who are living together. It sets out arrangements for finances and property while you’re living together and what will happen if you split up, become ill or die.

What is the purpose of a cohabitation agreement?

To ensure that you do/do not obtain a share of each other’s assets. This will be to specifically protect any assets that you bring to the relationship and do not seek to share in the event of a separation.

When is best to have one drawn up?

This can be done at any time, but it is best to do it before you move in together, have children, purchase a property, or joint mortgage.

Do I need to get a solicitor involved?

Yes, in order to make it legally binding.

Can it be tailored to suit our needs?

Yes. It can be drafted exactly how you have agreed but we will, of course, ensure that you have been advised accordingly to ensure you are acting in your best interests and that the Agreement seeks to protect the assets as intended.

How do I know what to include in the agreement?

Start by discussing with your partner both of your assets. This is often any property, investments, pensions, and savings. We will discuss every avenue with you before the agreement is signed and sealed to ensure no asset is missed.

Can my partner use the same solicitor?

No. Solicitors can only represent one of you to ensure we act within your best interests. We advise your partner gets advice on the document from a separate solicitor.

What can I expect a solicitor to ask me?

The value of both of your assets, if you rent or own a property, whose name it is in, any property improvement work either of you have paid for or are intending to pay for, how much you both earn and whether either of you have children.

Can I not just get a deed of trust to deal with the property?

You can, but a deed of trust only accounts for what is agreed at the time of purchase. For example, you might agree that you purchase a property as tenants in common in unequal shares. A deed of trust does not account for anything that is agreed regarding the property after purchase. A Cohabitation Agreement sets out your clear intentions regarding future shares of assets, independent of financial and other contributions that might be made.

How can I prove what happened after purchase?

You may have purchased a property together in unequal shares. One of you may then pay a considerable amount of money towards a new kitchen. You may then wish/not wish for this to affect both of your agreed interest in the property. Events such as this can all be accounted for in the cohabitation agreement.

How long is it likely to take?

A few weeks. We will be sure to keep you updated at every step.

How much is it likely to cost?

This varies depending on your circumstances. It is likely to be between £1500-£3,000 plus VAT. We can provide you with an estimate at the start of the process. Do bear in mind that you are very likely to pay more in legal fees if something goes wrong and you do not have a cohabitation agreement in place.

What if I have an agreement drafted and then something changes?

This is common. For example, you may have children, buy another property or move to another country. In this instance, contact your solicitor. We can advise you of any changes you may need to make to your agreement. Please note – your agreement may not be legally binding if you do not update it when you circumstances change, so it is important to keep regularly reviewed.

Do me and my partner both need to sign it?

Yes, along with a witness to your signature.

Is it possible to write my own cohabitation agreement?

You can, but you should be aware of certain important pre-contract conditions that must be met to make your agreement legally enforceable. If it is not drafted in the correct form, it will not be valid. They need to be drafted and executed correctly. We therefore strongly advise to contact a solicitor.

Is there anything else that I need to take into consideration?

Making/updating a will if you haven’t already. We can refer you to our Wills team.

What happens if me and my partner decide not to have a cohabitation agreement in place?

Upon separation from your partner, you will be risking losing a share of your assets.

What are my rights without a cohabitation agreement in place?

They are limited. You do not hold the same rights, responsibilities, or status as married couples. It is important to get a cohabitation agreement to protect your assets.

What happens if afterwards we wish to get married?

Your cohabitation agreement should be changed to a pre-nuptial agreement.



At Wollens our family team are experts in this field and can advise you at an early stage.

Contact Amelia  today :

[email protected] 

Call us :

South Devon      01803 213521

Exeter                 01392 274006

North Devon       01271 342268

Amelia Smith 

Trainee Solicitor at Wollens

Contact Amelia [email protected] 

Family law