Cohabitation - the legal implications

At our Cardiff Law Firm we regularly offer guidance to unmarried couples who want to understand their legal position when living together. Some of them we speak to before they move in together but others, sadly, only come to us when their relationship has broken down and they are often shocked to discover the facts about cohabitation.

There is no such thing as common law marriage

Many people think there is some legal protection for couples who have lived together for a reasonable period of time. Sadly, this is a myth. If only one partner owns the home, the other has no legal rights over that property if that relationship ends.  This is not to say that there are no rights over the property, but it can be a complex situation and specific legal advice will need to be obtained.  At Robertsons Solicitors, we have experts in the laws surrounding cohabitation.

Cohabitation laws

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What is cohabitation?

In legal terms it means living together as a couple. Students or adult siblings sharing a house are not generally seen as cohabiting.

Cohabitation Agreements

When we decide to live with somebody we discover there are a number of areas we need to negotiate. Who will drive the children to school? What happens when one partner’s curry night conflicts with the other’s Spanish Conversation class? Which way round does the toilet roll go?

Because we have confidence in the relationship we work these things out.  In the same way, a cohabitation agreement, crafted by our Family Law Solicitors Cardiff, takes a legal perspective of the process of living together and creates a framework for cohabitation that allows both partners to understand their obligations, expectations and potential futures. This can include exploring how the joint home will be handled if the couple separates, the way finances will work (which depends on whether the couple have individual or joint accounts) how joint businesses might be dissolved and what inheritance preferences they have if one partner dies. Issues of childcare, adoption and next of kin are also often built into Cohabitation Agreements. None of these matters are adequately covered by common law if couples are cohabiting rather than married.

At Robertsons Solicitors we believe that every relationship is important, which is why we offer a free, no obligation consultation to every couple, whether they are currently cohabiting, considering moving in together or planning a substantial change to their lives such as buying a house together or starting a family. We know that certainty helps cement relationships and a Cohabitation Agreement can provide the bedrock on which a great future will be constructed.

If you are married and the relationship is breaking down, visit our Divorce & Separation page to see how we can help.


"I highly recommend Robertsons Solicitors who I dealt with regarding family matters. The service I received over 12 months was dealt in a professional an yet approachable and friendly way. I can not recommend them enough." N. Williams