Cohabiting couples: What are your rights?

May 5, 2016

In the modern age, many couples are choosing to live together without getting married. Moving in with your partner is an exciting time, but did you know that your rights are not the same as if you were married?

Read on to find out more about the rights of cohabiting couples, and how we can help.

Living together

There are two types of cohabiting couples: those who rent a place together and those who buy a house. Either way, it is advisable to get a cohabitation agreement drawn up.

What is a cohabitation agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is a legal document that makes your relationship official in the eyes of the law. This is a good way to outline your rights and responsibilities towards each other, and most couples use their cohabitation agreement to clarify how the mortgage / rent / bills will be paid between them. There are also other reasons why you might have a cohabitation agreement drawn up:

  • If one partner owes the other money, the agreement will include how this will be paid
  • If the cohabiting couple has children, the agreement will include what will happen to them if the relationship ends
  • Anything else that needs to be included regarding the possibility of the relationship ending, e.g. what will happen to the property.

To get a cohabitation agreement, it is important to see a solicitor who specialises in family law. At Watsons, we are committed to offering reliable advise on this subject. We offer free half hour consultations upon request, so you can talk to one of our experts and find out if a cohabitation agreement is right for you.

It is advisable that, if you choose to buy a property as an unmarried couple, you purchase it jointly. This means that, should the relationship come to an end, both partners will have rights to the property.

If the property has been purchased in the name of only one of the partners, the other will not have any automatic rights to it.


If you are a cohabiting couple with children, then it is advisable to have a cohabitation agreement drawn up to clarify what will happen regarding them if the relationship were to end. See above for more details on this.

What are your childcare rights as a cohabiting couple?

Cohabiting couple childcare rights are often mistaken as the same rights as a married couple. This is not the case.

If you are an unmarried couple with children, it is the mother that automatically has full parental responsibility for them. The father does not have any automatic parental responsibility, unless he registers the birth with the mother and his name appears on the child’s birth certificate.

Contact Us

If you are interested or require any information on any of our services then please get in touch for an appointment on:

 01925 571 212
Mon-Fri: 9am - 5pm

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