Skip to content Skip to footer
Enquiries Call 0800 652 8025
Happy couple

Specialist cohabitation solicitors

Expert legal advice on cohabitation agreements, separation and disputes

If you live with your partner but are not married or in a civil partnership, our specialist cohabitation solicitors can advise you on reaching a formal agreement that sets out your shared and personal assets and responsibilities, giving you both a greater sense of security.

If your relationship has broken down, we can advise you on separating your finances and agreeing how you will co-parent in the best interests of your children, helping you to resolve any disputes as amicably as possible.

For expert legal advice on a cohabitation agreement or dispute, call 0800 422 0123 or get in touch online to arrange a consultation with one of our cohabitation solicitors.

On this page

Who our cohabitation solicitors can help

The widely held views around “common law marriage” and the longer the relationship the greater the entitlement to assets and income, are simply not true. So, it’s important to be fully aware of your legal rights and what would happen if you split up.

Our family law solicitors regularly advise:

  • Cohabiting couples who are not married or in a civil partnership
  • Unmarried parents who have decided to separate
  • Unmarried couples who are separating and own property
  • Unmarried couples who are separating and in business together

Why make a cohabitation agreement?

In this video, Chris Longbottom, a partner in our family law team, debunks the myth of a ‘common law marriage’ and discusses the rights cohabiting partners have on separation. He explains how a well-drafted cohabitation agreement can be beneficial for both partners.

Cohabitation agreements

Our specialist solicitors can advise you on drawing up a cohabitation agreement, setting out your individual financial responsibilities in the relationship and how any shared property and assets would be divided up if it were to end.

Taking this practical and pragmatic step now can give you both financial certainty and minimise the chances of a serious dispute between you in the future.

Cohabitation and separation

If you separate, you will not have any financial liability for your ex-partner. Neither of you will be entitled to spousal maintenance or have any rights over the other’s property or assets.

If you have children together, their welfare will no doubt be your top priority. The law also prioritises children and is the same whether you are married or not. Any parent must financially support their children and the Courts will apply the same decision-making process to a Child Arrangements Order if you cannot agree between yourselves.

However, as unmarried parents, only the mother will get parental responsibility. For the father to also have parental responsibility, they will need to be named on the child’s birth certificate or get an order from the Court.

Our cohabitation specialists can assist with negotiating a financial settlement and agreeing arrangements for children with your ex-partner. We can also document these decisions in a formal separation agreement.

Although not legally binding, a separation agreement drafted correctly by an experienced solicitor will clearly show your intentions to the Court should a dispute arise in the future.

Cohabitation disputes

When you’re not married, the legal process for dividing assets on divorce or dissolution does not apply, irrespective of your family makeup or how long you’ve been together.

Each asset that you or your partner want to dispute will be considered in its own right – another reason why a cohabitation agreement is a smart pre-emptive step to resolve matters quickly should your relationship break down.

Our experienced cohabitation solicitors can advise you on how to protect your assets and reach a resolution that is acceptable to you both, ideally through negotiation or mediation, although more complex or contentious disputes may need to go to Court.

We can also draw on the expertise of our colleagues across the firm, including specialists in property litigation, tax and estate planning and family businesses, to help protect your wider interests.

Resolving property disputes for cohabiting couples

Unlike a divorcing couple, you may not have any rights to your partner’s property if you separate and no automatic right to stay in your home unless you are named on the title deeds or tenancy.

If your relationship ends without a cohabitation agreement in place, property rights can become a highly sensitive and contentious area, often requiring expert legal advice to resolve your dispute and secure the right outcome.

Our specialist cohabitation solicitors have helped resolve many different types of property dispute between unmarried couples, either through our mediation services or through the Courts when necessary.

Common property disputes between cohabiting couples

  • If you own a property as joint tenants or tenants in common (where you each own an equal or unequal share, e.g. 70:30) and are unable to agree on how to divide your home’s value between you.
  • If one of you owns the property but the other has made a significant financial contribution and consider ownership to be shared.
  • If one of you owns the property but the other is the parent who has day to day care of children, they may have a claim for capital to purchase a property to live in whilst the children are growing up.
  • If one partner believes the other has promised them an interest in the property (but if this wasn’t documented, it can be very difficult to prove).

Why choose us to be your cohabitation solicitors?

  • Sensitive and pragmatic approach
  • Collaborative lawyers and trained mediators on our family law team
  • Committed members of Resolution, taking a non-confrontational approach to family matters wherever possible
  • Our family solicitors are highly rated by The Legal 500 and Chambers Guide
  • Experts in other legal disciplines within our firm can advise on any complexities that arise from your cohabitation agreement or dispute
  • Competitive pricing and close monitoring of costs at all times

Speak to a specialist cohabitation solicitor

If you need legal advice about any issue relating to cohabitation, be it drawing up an agreement or settling a dispute, please contact our family law solicitors. Call us now on 0800 422 0123 or get in touch online to book your initial consultation.

Your key contacts

Rayner Grice


Rayner advises on the issues that arise for an individual following the breakdown of a relationship in relation to divorce/civil partnership dissolution, their financial affairs and their children.
View profile for Rayner Grice >

Adam Maguire


Adam specialises in divorce and family law. He advises clients regarding all aspects of private family law including cohabitation, separation, divorce and related financial issues, disputes concerning children and nuptial agreements.
View profile for Adam Maguire >

Clare Webb


Clare has built her practice with a commitment to helping her clients resolve their issues in a constructive and conciliatory way. In doing so, she will always have regard to the longterm hopes and aspirations for the family as a whole, whilst of course protecting her client’s interest.
View profile for Clare Webb >

Philippa Yeo


Philippa is committed to helping couples navigate all aspects of the legal process on the breakdown of their relationship in a pragmatic, collaborative and family-focused way including supporting couples to reach arrangements for their children and achieve healthy future co-parenting relationships.
View profile for Philippa Yeo >

Latest news and updates

Divorce and family law

What does co-parenting actually mean?

Paloma Faith has recently ignited a rather controversial parenting debate, saying that she doesn’t like the word co-parenting because ‘co’ implies 50/50 and she doesn’t believe it ever is. But does ‘co’ really imply equal care?
Read more on What does co-parenting actually mean?

The impact of sport relocation in family law

The impact of a ‘professional sportsperson’ career on families is often overlooked. For instance, when a footballer transfers to a new club, they might need to relocate to another part of the country or even to a different country altogether.
Read more on The impact of sport relocation in family law

Looking for legal advice?