cohabiting agreements


When you consult a family law solicitor for help on finances related to living together or, in the case of divorce or separation, you will often hear them refer to various types of Agreements and Orders. This can be confusing and it is helpful to understand which agreement is the most suitable for you depending on your circumstances and whether you need to obtain a Court Order.

An Agreement is a document signed by both parties and shows that the parties “intend to create legal relations” and to be bound by the terms which may in certain circumstances be enforced in Court.

An Order is made by a Court in proceedings for divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership. It can be made by the Consent of the parties or after a Court hearing and judgment.

An Order can also be made when parties separate after living together, however cohabiting couples must apply to the Civil Court for enforcement and different laws apply.

So when you are thinking of marrying or living together and in the event of separation or divorce which agreement/Order do you need?

Follow the simple steps below to find out which applies.

If you are intending to marry, same-sex marriage or civil partnership:

  • Before marriage – Pre-nuptial Agreement (see David Smith’s blog – Is a Prenup a Passion Killer?)
  • After marriage – Post-nuptial Agreement
  • Upon separation, if you do not wish to start divorce – Separation Agreement
  • Upon divorce/judicial separation – if matters agreed – Consent Order
  • If matters not agreedOrder of the Court after a Final hearing

Intending to live together:

  • Before living together – Cohabitee Agreement (see David Smith’s blog – Cohabitees – Prevention not cure. To view, click
  • Upon separation – Separation Agreement
  • In disputed cases- application to the court for an Order under Trust for Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA) and/ or application under the Children Act 1989

The family law team at Beswicks Legal are on hand to guide you and to explain more about the Agreements and Orders available and advise you on which is most suitable for you. Look out for future blogs where we will continue to explain them in more detail.

For advice on cohabiting or any family matter, contact our family law solicitors on 01782 205000 or email