What is a cohabitation agreement?

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A cohabitation agreement is a written legal contract between two people who are living together or are about to live together. It is similar to a pre-nuptial (‘pre-nup’) agreement for a married couple. It will usually contain sections (‘clauses’) on your financial arrangements, arrangements for your children, and how custody/access, support issues and property will be dealt with if you end your relationship.

You are not required to have a cohabitation agreement, though some couples get one for peace of mind, and it can be a useful tool to have in place if you separate from your partner. A cohabitation agreement is usually drawn-up by a lawyer, to make sure that it is written properly and contains all of the wording and clauses that you need so that it can be enforced if you do separate.

If you get a cohabitation agreement, both you and your common law partner should get independent legal advice to make sure the agreement is right for you. Independent legal advice means that each of you would speak to a different lawyer for advice, as one lawyer should not give both of you advice – this is a conflict.

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