Cohabitation agreements: Law Society guidance

The Cohabitation Rights Bill is sluggishly making its way through parliament with little sign yet of it becoming law. Meanwhile, the Law Society has issued useful guidance on cohabitation agreements which couples ought to consider – and practitioners should be recommending when they can.

Cohabitation agreements could be a new area for your practice if you don’t currently offer it, says the Society, with unmarried cohabiting families the fastest growing type of family in the UK. And because they (still) have fewer rights than married couples and those in civil partnership, they may want a cohabitation agreement.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), cohabiting couple families in the UK are growing the fastest. In 2017, the second largest family type was the cohabiting couple family at 3.3m families. It’s not hard to see, in light of these figures, that the cohabitee market is large (and growing) - and lawyers acting for individuals living as a cohabitee should be taking positive steps to help them protect their legal rights.

Assuming the Cohabitation Right Bill eventually becomes law, the rights of some cohabitees will have greater protection – though still relatively modest. Cohabitees will not be given the same extent of financial relief available on divorce but the courts may be able to adjust the financial position in some cases of relationship breakdown to reach a fair split – in order to redress a financial benefit or an economic disadvantage resulting from the cohabitation period.

The provisions will be limited and it is increasingly important for anyone living together, but who intend to remain unmarried, to consider formalising an agreement in this way.

Romantic and non-romantic cohabitees
The guidance, Cohabitation agreements, explains what you can discuss with the couple and why a cohabitation agreement should be considered. And it’s not just couples – friends and other family members, such as siblings, might decide to combine their financial resources to get a step on the housing ladder and buy a property together. Their rights need to be protected.

The guidance explains what information practitioners need, including any relevant documents to support the agreement, eg. birth certificates of any children in the relationship, proof of bank accounts and other assets, and tenancy agreement or evidence of property ownership.

You should also consider how any cross-border assets should be (or will be) dealt with in the case of a relationship breakdown. Should the agreement reflect the law in the jurisdiction in which a particular asset, for instance, a holiday home, is located?

Practitioners are reminded of the necessary legalities to ensure the final agreement is valid; and the importance of each party taking independent legal advice before committing to it. Reminding clients of the need to review it if there are any changes in circumstances is also recommended.

There are also opportunities to offer related legal services. If your clients have not yet made a will, they should do to – particularly if each wants the other to inherit their estate on death. If you know they are still married to someone else or have children from previous relationships, for instance, a consideration of making a will is vital.



Back to the SOLICITORS group News

Media Centre

“The Solicitors Group online directory is an established and respected channel for legal professionals, meaning I can talk to my existing and future customers about products and services both quickly and easily.”

Carole Hatton
Marketing Manager
Landmark Information Group

“Reaching our niche market can sometimes be challenging, however we find promoting our legal training courses on an excellent way of contacting both existing and new customers. The service we receive from The Solicitors Group is both professional and relevant to our core activities and we would recommend their services to others.”


“I must say that to date we have been very pleased with the referrals we are getting from your site.”

Paul West
Orchid Cellmark

“The Newsdesk feature on is ideal for us. Its prominent location on the site provides a great platform to communicate key messages to existing and potential clients.”

Neil Phillips
Marketing Manager
Countrywide Legal Indemnities

"We are very happy with the referrals we are getting from The Solicitors Group web-site."

C.A. Bishop
Technical Director
Wickham Laboratories Ltd

“We received 419 click-throughs to our site from advertising with”

Legal Prospects

“Putting myself in my potential client's shoes, I consider to offer perhaps the clearest and most user-friendly listing of expert witnesses, especially in its choice of index terms.”

Ivan Vince
ASK Consultants

“The banner ad looks great”

Samantha Dawson
The Bundle Business Limited

“The Solicitors Group has been fantastic in helping us to raise awareness about bowel cancer, which kills 16,000 people every year in the UK. Bowel Cancer UK aims to save lives by raising awareness of bowel cancer, campaigning for best treatment and care and providing practical support and advice. Without the support of organisations such as the Solicitors Group we would be unable to carry out this vital work. We are very grateful to the team at the Solicitors Group for their support and assistance.”

Tamara Matthews
Legacy Officer
Bowel Cancer UK

“As a result of Law London, we have registered 208 new companies/firms to the website, generating £20,797 GWP to date, as well as reinforcing our presence in this very profitable marketplace.”


“The event was well put together and executed, and the traffic of potential customers for us was high. We had a number of enquiries regarding our services after the event and we feel our attendance there was important to our overall brand exposure. We feel a Law event of this size without Euromoney Legal Training present could potentially be hurtful to us as a business. We would recommend you to attend and shall ourselves be there again in 2008.”


“Many thanks for the prompt service.”

Martin Gibbs MBE
Director / Investigator
Griffin Forensics Ltd

“A targeted email to key customers is an invaluable method of communication, endorse this with the Solicitors Group branding, relevant editorial content and you have created a winning combination! We look forward to reading the next edition.”

Carole Hatton
Marketing Manager
Landmark Information Group

“Talking directly to Property Lawyers is critical to us as they are key customers or potentially could be for all of our products, The Solicitors Group offer a perfect solution to get our messages right to the right people”

Carole Hatton
Marketing Manager
Landmark Information Group

“Thank you for having a useful and informative site, it is good to see a comprehensive and friendly portal.”

Stefan Fann
UK Probate Services

“Cadogans aims to keep its brand image in front of lawyers who may be looking for engineering experts. A check on Google analytics showed that referrals to our website from The Solicitors Group website were above average.”

Daphne Wassermann
Technical Director