Cohabitation Agreement Lawyers Leeds, York & Sheffield

At Lupton Fawcett, we understand the difficulties you can face when it comes to property, finances and children if you are cohabitating with a partner, as the law handles these rights differently to married couples. We can provide pragmatic legal advice should you be involved in a dispute as well as guide you through the process of creating a cohabitation agreement quickly and efficiently so you can have peace of mind that your assets are suitably protected.

Our expert solicitors have provided advice to couples facing many types of cohabitation disputes, including property, children, assets and maintenance. We can provide you with advice on how to put some protection in place should your relationship breakdown. We can also prepare a cohabitation agreement for you if you are intending to live with a partner, which sets out the financial agreement should you separate in the future.

If you wish to talk to one of our specialist family law solicitors about your cohabitation rights, or need help after the breakdown of a relationship, get in touch with our Yorkshire-based team today by calling our Leeds, York or Sheffield offices on 0333 323 5292, or by filling out the enquiry form on this page and letting us know a suitable time to call you back.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is a document which records arrangements between you and a partner who you cohabit with.  They are not legally enforceable, they can be used to resolve disputes quickly and efficiently.  An agreement can cover how some issues should be dealt with, including: 

  • Home ownership
  • Childcare roles
  • How bills are shared
  • Pension schemes
  • Life insurance
  • Savings
  • Investments
  • Joint account conditions
  • Power of attorney
  • Wills

Who Can Enter Into a Cohabitation Agreement?

Cohabitation agreements are often entered into by unmarried couples as a way of protecting themselves in the event that the relationship breaks down or one partner dies. An unmarried couple do not have the same legal rights as a married couple meaning you are not entitled to anything which belongs to your partner upon separation or death (unless you are named in their will).

If you have children with your cohabiting partner the law treats children in a similar way to married couples who are getting a divorce. This means where children live will depend on their bests interests.

To learn more about your rights, click on the relevant topic below:

Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.

Your Rights if Children are Involved

If you are not married, but are living together and have children, then legally only the mother has parental responsibility, meaning she can make all the important decisions for any children. This includes deciding which school they will attend and what type of medical treatment they receive when ill.

To get parental responsibility, you must be either be:

  • Named as the father on the child’s birth certificate
  • Named in a parental responsibility agreement with the mother
  • Registered as the child’s guardian with all others who have parental responsibility having passed away, including the mother
  • Named in a parental responsibility order
  • Named in a child arrangements order if a court has ordered the child is to live with you
  • Named in a child arrangements order if a court has ordered the child to spend time with you and exercises a discretion to grant you parental responsibility

Our solicitors will provide assistance and representation should you want to apply for parental responsibility.

If you and your cohabiting partner split up, the law treats children in a similar way to married couples who are getting a divorce. This means where children live depends on their best interests, instead of who has parental responsibility. There is a presumption of shared parenting, although this does not necessarily mean that children are to spend an equal amount of time with each parent. If the children don’t live with you, then you’ll have to pay maintenance to help with their upbringing.

Mediation can be used to decide on matters involving children in a civilised manner, and is usually the preferred method should a relationship break down. However, you can apply to the court should you not be happy with a decision that has been made, or if certain other exemptions apply.

What Are My  Financial Rights?

The law does not require you to financially support each other should you decide to live together as a couple, so there is no need to do so should you separate. This means any assets you might possess are still yours when you live with someone as a couple. For example:

  • If you owned something before you lived together
  • If you buy something while you are cohabiting
  • If you receive a gift from your partner – although proof must be given to show that it was a gift

Additionally, if you buy something as a couple, then you own the amount you contributed to the overall cost. For example, if you pay £750 towards a sofa that costs £1000, then you would own 75%. However, if you accrue any debts jointly, you are equally as responsible for the debt, so if your partner fails to meet payments, you could become liable for the remaining amount.

Similar to avoiding disputes with property, a cohabitation agreement is a good way of setting out what you both own, how much each has contributed and what you are entitled to should a relationship end.

What Are My Property Rights?

A common mistake among cohabiting couples is a belief that they have equal rights in the home they share. This can result in problems should only one of you rent or own the property.

If you move into a property rented by your partner, only those named in the tenancy agreement have the legal right to be there, and you can be asked to leave at any point with reasonable notice. If you are not named on the property, you are likely to require consent from the landlord if you wish to move in, or if the named tenant moves out, then you may be able to negotiate a new tenancy agreement with the landlord.

If the home you share is owned by your partner, then, as with a rented property, only they are entitled to live there. The owner is also entitled to make decisions without your consent, such as putting the house up for sale. You may have some rights in certain circumstances, but this depends on a number of factors, including whether or not:

  • The owner has agreed in writing to you having a share in the home
  • You make contributions to the home – for example, paying part of the mortgage
  • You have acted to your own detriment with the understanding that you are entitled to a share in the property – for example, giving up your job
  • Your children’s welfare will be jeopardised. To continue living in a property with your children, you must apply to the court

Cohabitation Disputes

It is very common for disputes to arise between the people sharing a house, whether it’s a cohabiting couple or friends.

The cohabitation disputes lawyers at Lupton Fawcett have the experience and legal knowledge to help you resolve these issues effectively.

Disputes often occur when one party wishes to leave a property they have contributed financially to over the years but do not necessarily have legal rights to, and when one party wishes to sell a property which is owned in joint names.

It is important for the interests of all parties involved to have a formal agreement drawn up at the outset, so that misunderstandings and common pitfalls can be avoided in the future.

Contact Us for Help

If you wish to talk to one of our family solicitors about your cohabitation rights, or need help after the breakdown of a relationship, get in touch with our Yorkshire-based team today by calling our Leeds, York or Sheffield offices on 0333 323 5292, by filling out the enquiry form on this page and letting us know a suitable time to call you back.

Lupton Fawcett are a leading personal and commercial law firm in Yorkshire with well-established offices of highly experienced solicitors in LeedsSheffield and York.

Our Family Lawyers act regularly for clients across the United Kingdom including Bradford, Birmingham, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Sheffield, York and Nottingham.  We can support your needs wherever you live in England, Wales & Northern Ireland.

For a no obligation initial consultation please either call the office or leave your details using the contact form at the top of this page.  We’ll be happy to help.

I instructed Chris Burns to advise me in relation to various financial issues which arose following the breakdown of my marriage. My case involved a dispute with my former husband over the ownership and occupation of a significant property with adjacent land. Chris steered me through the process of resolving this. Despite resistance from my former husband, Chris advised me with a determined focus and provided me with clear and pragmatic advice throughout the process and achieved my objective within the proceedings.


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