Cohabitation Solicitors

Anyone who is living together without being married or in a civil partnership should consider what would happen if they were to separate from their partner. Our cohabitation solicitors can assist with making a cohabitation agreement to clarify how this would be handled. We can also assist with resolving cohabitation disputes and navigating a separation.

  • Rebecca Bates
      • 0117 99094482
      • View profile
  • Carolyn Bawden-Frost
      • 01454 807985
      • 01454 859465
      • View profile
  • Melody Brown
      • 01454 807985
      • View profile
  • David Foster
      • 0117 909 4468
      • View profile
  • Phil Thomas
      • 0117 9926778
      • View profile
  • Suzanne Young
      • View profile

Unmarried couples have no automatic legal rights to each other’s property if they separate, which can put you at risk of serious financial hardship. We can clearly explain your rights and how making a cohabitation agreement can help. Our experts can draft the agreement for you and ensure it meets the legal standard necessary to be considered by a court if that need ever arises.

If you are in a dispute or going through a separation, we can use our expertise in alternative dispute resolution to give you the best chance of achieving an amicable outcome.

With Family Law accreditation from the Law Society, you can be confident we offer the expertise and high-quality client service you deserve. Your concerns will be listened to and we will shape our approach to make sure you get the exact service you require.

Speak to one of our cohabitation solicitors now by contacting your local Henriques Griffiths office in Bristol or Winterbourne.

Or use our simple enquiry form to ask a question or request a call back.

How our cohabitation solicitors in Bristol can help you

We support families all over England and Wales with a wide range of issues related to cohabitation and living together, including:

  • Cohabitation agreements (formerly called ‘living together agreements’)
  • Cohabitation disputes
  • Separation for unmarried couples

Cohabitation and living together FAQs

What is a cohabitation agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is a legal document signed by an unmarried couple who are living together. It will set out how their finances should be divided if they ever separate, as well as other key issues, such as arrangements for children.

As unmarried couples have no automatic legal rights to each other’s property and other assets, it is strongly recommended to make a cohabitation agreement if you are living together or plan to do so.

Is a cohabitation agreement legally binding?

A cohabitation agreement is a legal document. As long as it has been properly prepared and signed by both parties, then it will be enforceable in court. This means that, if one partner breaches the terms of the agreement, the other could potentially bring a civil claim against them.

For a cohabitation agreement to be legally valid, the following conditions must be met:

  • It should be signed by both partners in the cohabiting couple
  • You should both be entering into the agreement freely and voluntarily
  • You must both make a full disclosure of your assets, as well as any debts or other liabilities
  • The agreement must be updated if either of you have any major change in circumstances, e.g. you have children or receive a significant inheritance

If you fail to keep a cohabitation agreement up to date, a court may consider that it is not enforceable. The most common reason for this would be if you have had children since the agreement was made and the agreement has not been updated to reflect this. A court will always put the needs of children first, so it is essential to keep this in mind.

Our cohabitation agreement solicitors can make sure all eventualities are fully considered so you get the best possible protection.

What should you include in a cohabitation agreement?

A cohabitation agreement can include whatever you want, but common things to cover are:

  • What happens to the family home if you separate
  • What happens to any children you have
  • How any other assets will be shared
  • If one partner will pay any form of maintenance to the other
  • Pension rights, e.g. if one partner would be entitled to a share of the other’s pension

A cohabitation agreement can also cover issues such as how the mortgage/rent and other costs will be split during your relationship to help prevent future conflict.

Who gets the house when an unmarried couple splits up?

How the family home is divided when an unmarried couple separates will depend on various factors.

If one of you owns the property, the other will have no right to a share of it unless their name has been added to the title deed or you have a cohabitation agreement stating that they have a right to a share of the property.

If you own the property together, your ownership will be assumed to be 50:50, no matter how much you each contributed to the deposit and mortgage payments, unless you have a ‘deed of trust’ or a cohabitation agreement stating otherwise.

A deed of trust is a legal document that can be used to set out what each party’s ownership rights are to the property, e.g. a 60:40 split rather than 50:50.

What is common law marriage?

Many people mistakenly believe that if they live together without getting married for long enough, then they have a ‘common law’ marriage. The idea is that this gives them some legal rights with regards to each other’s property. The reality is that there is no such thing as common law marriage.

People who rely on this idea often find themselves unpleasantly surprised if they do separate, as they will have no automatic rights over their former partner’s property. This can leave people in serious financial difficulties and often with nowhere to live.

This is why it is always recommended to make a cohabitation agreement, no matter how long you may have already been living together.

Our cohabitation solicitors’ fees

Transparency is at the heart of our service, including when it comes to the costs involved. We can offer fixed fees where appropriate or competitive hourly rates if this is the best match for your requirements.

During your initial consultation with a member of our team, we will clearly explain the likely costs involved and you will be given a full breakdown of expected costs before we start work.

Why choose Henriques Griffiths’ cohabitation solicitors in Bristol

At Henriques Griffiths, we have been helping individuals and families navigate all areas of family law for nearly 50 years. We combine expert technical legal advice with a friendly, personal approach. Our cohabitation solicitors will make sure to get to know you and your circumstances, so we can give carefully tailored advice to suit your needs.

As well as helping with cohabitation law, we can also advise on many other issues you may need assistance with. This includes residential conveyancing and making a Will.

Independent recognition of our expertise

Our team has achieved Family Law accreditation and Child Law accreditation from the Law Society, reflecting the high standards of legal knowledge and client service we offer.

Henriques Griffiths is Lexcel accredited by the Law Society for our practice management and client care.

We are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), providing assurance that we continually meet the highest legal and professional standards.

Contact our cohabitation solicitors in Bristol today

Speak to one of our cohabitation lawyers now by contacting your local Henriques Griffiths office in Bristol or Winterbourne.

Or use our simple enquiry form to ask a question or request a call back.