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The number of unmarried couples living together has dramatically increased in recent years. Nearly half of births in the UK are now outside marriage.

Many people still believe that there is a status of ‘common law marriage’ which gives cohabitees the same rights as married couples. But this is a fallacy. The financial orders available to married couples do not apply to couples living together. Cohabitees must rely instead on often complex law that has developed over time to deal with their problems.

This is why an increasing number of cohabiting couples sign Cohabitation Agreements. These sets out the arrangements which will apply while they are living together, as well as establishing rights if the relationship breaks down.

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What are Cohabitation Agreements?

Cohabitation Agreements usually cover issues including the ownership of property and possessions, paying the bills, liability for debts, ownership of bank accounts and cars and what happens to possessions if the relationship breaks down.

By defining and dealing with these issues at the outset, the aim is to avoid a costly dispute and possible court proceedings if the relationship comes to an end and an agreement cannot be reached.

For a cohabitation agreement to be enforceable, those signing it must not be placed under any undue influence, they must intend to create legal relations, there must be consideration and the agreement must be certain and clear.

Speak to our solicitors

Our team of family law specialists in Chester and Shrewsbury is highly experienced in advising cohabitees and drafting Cohabitation Agreements that reflect their current situation and minimise the risk of future disagreements.

To speak to a member of our team please complete the enquiry form below and one of our family law solicitors will be in touch about your case.

Key Contacts

Simon Magner Mawdsley

Simon Magner Mawdsley

Family Law Partner


Simon acts for clients in all aspects of relationship breakdowns including divorce, resolution of financial matters, civil partnerships, cohabitation disputes, pre- and post-marital agreements, injunctions, and children matters.

Lorraine Saunders

Lorraine Saunders

Family Law Partner

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Neil Hobden

Neil Hobden

Family Law Partner

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Richard Barge

Richard Barge

Partner | Head of Family Law

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