Co habitation Issues - MLP Law

Resolve legal disputes involving someone you live with

Co-habitation issues can be challenging. You may have children and pets, shared finances and assets, but none of the legal protections of marriage or civil partnership. This can make disputes difficult to resolve.

At the same time, you can’t avoid the people you live with. This makes it even more important to resolve disputes quickly and amicably, to avoid unnecessary distress and to protect your relationship where possible.

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Avoid common co-habitation legal disputes

If you plan to live with a romantic partner long-term without getting married or entering a civil partnership, it is sensible to check for any common co-habitation legal disputes that might arise in the future.

  • Joint and sole financial interests in the property
  • Parental/guardianship rights over step-children
  • Residential rights if you separate

Remember, there is no such thing as ‘common-law marriage’ in English law. If you are not married or in a civil partnership, you are unlikely to gain any significant legal rights.

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How a Cohabitation Agreement can help

A Cohabitation Agreement is a legal contract that can set out certain arrangements when you move in together. It’s similar to a Pre-Nuptial Agreement, but for unmarried co-habiting couples.

In some ways a Cohabitation Agreement is even more powerful than a prenup. When drawn up correctly, it is a legally enforceable document, so you will be able to go to court in the event of a future dispute.

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Frequently asked Co habitation questions

When can I get a Cohabitation Agreement?

You can get a Cohabitation Agreement drawn up when you move in together or when you have lived together for some time. For example, you might decide to make new arrangements due to a change in one party’s financial circumstances or when a step-child who previously lived with you moves out to an address of their own.

How long must we live together to gain legal rights?

Living together for longer does not automatically increase your rights. However, you may be able to show you have a financial interest in a property or asset, if you have contributed towards it for longer.

What if we have only recently moved in together?

Don’t worry. Living together for only a short amount of time usually does not mean you have any fewer rights. If you are facing a dispute with a relatively new co-habiting partner, please contact us as we can still offer largely the same help.

Can I go to court over a co-habitation issue?

If necessary, yes. The courts will usually enforce a Cohabitation Agreement if you have one in place, so we would recommend any newly co-habiting couples consider getting one drawn up, especially if you have dependants and/or do not plan to marry.

What if I am in a same-sex relationship?

Most co-habitation issues do not depend on the orientation of your relationship. There may be different rights depending on whether you are married, in a civil partnership, or just living together, but these should not be based on sex or gender identity.

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