From a legal perspective, cohabitation involves two adults living together in a committed, intimate relationship, without being married to each other, civil partners, or related to each other (within the prohibited degrees of relationship). 

What else needs to be considered when deciding whether a relationship equates to cohabitation?

  1. How long has the relationship continued?
  2. On what basis do the parties live together?
  3. To what level does either party depend on the other financially?
  4. What kind of financial arrangements have they made (including property purchases and other joint acquisitions)?
  5. Are there dependent children?
  6. Does one party support the children of the other?
  7. Do the parties present themselves as a couple?

Qualified Cohabitants

To be considered a qualified cohabitant who can apply to the court for orders, you must:

  • rely economically on the other party in the relationship
  • be an adult
  • have been in a cohabiting relationship with the other adult for at least two years if you are the parents of at least one dependent child, or five years in all other cases

The kinds of court orders you may secure include:

  • A property adjustment order, which changes property ownership
  • A maintenance order
  • A pension adjustment order
  • In certain cases, the court may make provision from a deceased cohabitant’s estate.

Cohabitation agreements

The Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 allows couples who live together to make a cohabitants’ agreement to deal with financial issues during the relationship or when the relationship breaks down, whether through death or otherwise. Such agreements are only legally valid if the parties have obtained independent legal advice, or if they have obtained legal advice together and have waived in writing the right to independent legal advice. The agreement also has to be in writing, signed by both parties, and comply with the general law of contract.

The Court can amend or set aside a cohabitation agreement if enforcing it would cause serious injustice. Contact your solicitor to ensure our cohabitation agreement is valid.