A Legal Guide to Cohabitating


Today, more than ever before, many couples are preferring to live together in an unmarried relationship in lieu of marrying or remarrying.

As of November 2017, According to the Office for National Statistics, cohabitating couples were the fastest-growing types of families in the last 20 years. This number is doubled since 1995 and went from 1.5 million in 1996 to 3.3 million in 2017.

Top 5 Tips For Cohabitating


  1. Enter into a cohabiting agreement. Many of the couples assume that they’re protected by “common-law marriages”, this can lead to a huge shock of the relationship disintegrates or if one party passes away. In order to protect their rights, we strongly suggest that couples who aren’t married enter into some form of a cohabitating agreement. This is a legal agreement that can help cover a variety of issues including daily finances, child support, division of assets, and even death if one party passes away.


  1. Declaration of Trust. This is a binding agreement that outlines what portion of joint property is owned by each party. This can also hold the property in one name leaving the other party with no interest in the property. It’s enforceable, however, it’s not usually used if the relationship falls apart or if either party passes away. It doesn’t set forth a method of use should either party pass away.


  1. It’s important to understand the difference between the terms “joint tenant” and “tenants in common”. These two terms aren’t interchangeable. If a property is purchased, the conveyance will ask if they wish for the property to be Joint tenants or Tenants in Common. If it’s held as Joint Tenants, if one party passes away, their share automatically passes to the partner. With Tenants in Common, each partner has a specific share and if they pass away the property passes to their designated beneficiary.


  1. Make a Will. In a marriage, if one partner passes away the other partner typically gets everything. This isn’t automatic in a cohabitation setting. Without a Will, the property will pass to relatives that are in line with the rules of the particular area wherein they reside. The cohabitant may receive nothing at all. It’s vital that both parties make a Will to ensure that their will is fulfilled properly and the estate is distributed as they desire. This is especially true if there are children involved between the two parties. One party may make less money and not be able to provide for the children if this isn’t done.


  1. Set up pension provisions. Unmarried couples don’t typically get anything of their partners pension should they pass away. It’s imperative, especially if they have children, that they have the unmarried partner as the beneficiary under such situations. If you wish for your partner to be able to provide for the children you’ll want to make sure that this is done regardless of how things sit now between the two fo you. Should you pass away suddenly you’ll want to ensure that your children are provided for.