Cohabitation Agreement

Key contacts

Morton Fraser Partner Lucia Clark
Lucia Clark
Lucia is a partner in our Family Law team in Edinburgh. 
0131 247 1243
Morton Fraser Partner Fiona Sasan
Fiona Sasan
Fiona is an extremely experienced family lawyer and one of our Glasgow based partners. Fiona is also an accredited family law specialist, a ...
0141 274 1107

If you're moving in with your partner, you probably won't be worrying about what might happen legally if things go wrong. However, particularly if you are buying a property together, this is worth thinking through carefully. 

How we can help you

The obvious example is one partner is putting in more funds to the purchase than the other - should that person receive more funds back at the end of the relationship? If the title is simply taken in equal joint names, there is no legal guarantee that this person will be able to reclaim more than 50% of the net value of the property, even if they have paid more than half of the cost. The law in this area is not clear-cut and a claim might be difficult to establish. If you're living together as a couple, there may be a legal basis for asking the court to award you a greater proportion of the value, but if your ex-partner will not agree a settlement you would have to go to court - which may cost more than the amount in dispute, as well as being stressful and upsetting. Instead, at the start of your relationship, you can put in place In a legal agreement, sometimes called a cohabitation agreement or a 'living together agreement'. 

What should a cohabitation agreement include?

Usually, this type of agreement will set out how your property will be dealt with if you do separate. It can also deal with other potential claims on separation. 

When should we put in place a cohabitation agreement? 

Ideally, this is done before you complete the purchase of the property, but it’s not too late to do it afterwards. 

Is a cohabitation agreement valid after marriage?

We would normally advise that your cohabitation agreement come to an end if you marry or form a civil partnership. This is because the legal rights and responsibilities governing unmarried couples and married couples are very different. If you want to consider replacing your cohabitation agreement with a pre-nuptial agreement in due course, we can help with that.   

Can you act for me and my partner in drafting a cohabitation agreement?

No. There are Law Society rules which do not allow us to act where there is a conflict of interest. We would suggest that your partner get advice from a specialist family lawyer from another firm in relation to the agreement. 

Our approach to fees 

In terms of cost, we offer two fee packages :-

Simple agreement - where all we need to do is agree how the equity in the property would be divided according to a fixed formula - £850 + VAT and outlays.

Bespoke agreement - in more complex investment scenarios and/or where there are other legal or financial issues which need to be addressed. We will give you a detailed quotation before starting any work.

Want to know more? You can have a free, no obligation chat to one of our specialist family lawyers. Contact a member of our team for more information, or you can speak to your conveyancing solicitor who will put you in touch with us.