Is a verbal Cohabitation Agreement legally binding?

Barker Son & Isherwood LLP


Phone 01264 353411


The short answer to this question is no, a verbal co-habitation agreement is not legally binding and because you are not married, you have no legal rights as a couple. Therefore, if you are planning to live together as a couple, or if you are already living together, you should seriously consider a cohabitation agreement.

We’ll take a look at what elements are contained in a cohabitation agreement and why you should get one.

A cohabitation agreement is a document that lays out the responsibilities of each person in the relationship and how that relates to living together.

A cohabitation agreement is really important as it formalises your expectations and responsibilities right at the start of your relationship. It also means you may have legal protection for your assets should your relationship not work out. A cohabitation agreement should simplify the situation if your relationship does end.   

A cohabitation agreement will include a number of agreed clauses, which make up the agreement itself. The clauses can include:

  • The agreement – your cohabitation agreement will state that you intend the agreement to be legally binding, that it’s there to outline your responsibilities to each other and that you’ve both taken legal advice or had the opportunity to do so about the agreement. This is an essential part of any cohabitation agreement and must be present.


  • Children – the agreement will name any children that you have together and any from any previous relationships. Whilst the cohabitation agreement will not lay out responsibilities for the children, it does make a statement about your family and how it’s made up. You can also include a provision to state that if one partner stays at home to look after the children, that this should be viewed as an equal share to any financial contribution made.


  • Your property – your cohabitation agreement will outline where you currently live and whether the property is owned or rented. Your cohabitation agreement will also include how rent or mortgage payments for the property are split between you. It states whether you own the home as tenants in common or as joint tenants, or if one of you owns the property outright, states that you will have no rights in the property even if you make a financial contribution. You may also need a declaration of trust drawn up to show the percentage share of the property that each of you owns. 


  • Household expenses – this outlines how you will deal with all the expenses that come with running a household together and includes items such as  gas, electric, council tax, TV licence and so on. It also states that each individual will have liability for any individual debts incurred.


  • Ownership and belongings – you can decide how to share the assets you buy while you are together in your cohabitation agreement and keep any assets you had before you started living together. This includes a specific provision for any cars you may own, separately or jointly.


  • Ending the agreement  - this can happen in a number of different ways, including if one person dies, if you marry or one or both of you decide to stop living together. It also includes arrangements for the transitional period when you split up.

Making a cohabitation agreement can really help you both to carefully consider how your relationship will work in practice and allow you both to feel more protected.

It is vitally important to get independent legal advice about the ramifications of making a cohabitation agreement. In fact, it’s an essential part of making the agreement, so call our Family Team now on 01264 353411, contact us via email: or via our free online, no obligation enquiry form  for help and advice with your cohabitation agreement.


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