Cohabitation Agreements: 5-Point Comprehensive Guide

cohabitation agreement | Melbourne Family Lawyers

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

Cohabitation agreements, often called ‘living together agreements,’ are formal, legally binding contracts between partners. They detail how assets, debts, and property will be handled during the relationship and in the event of separation.

These agreements can also cover day-to-day financial arrangements, ownership of property acquired before or during the cohabitation, and maintenance obligations.

Key Takeaway 🔑: A cohabitation agreement sets a legal framework for couples living together, offering protection and clarity for both parties.

Pros and Cons of Cohabitation Agreements


Legal Protection: A cohabitation agreement offers legal protection for both partners. It ensures assets and debts are divided as agreed upon, reducing the risk of disputes if the relationship ends.

Financial Clarity: These agreements bring financial clarity and security by outlining financial responsibilities, which can prevent misunderstandings and conflicts over money.

Enhances Communication: Creating a cohabitation agreement encourages open communication about expectations and finances, potentially strengthening the relationship.


Perceived Lack of Trust: Some couples might see the need for a cohabitation agreement as indicative of mistrust, which could strain the relationship if not approached carefully.

Legal and Emotional Costs: Drafting a cohabitation agreement involves legal fees and can sometimes bring emotional stress as partners negotiate terms. This process might highlight differences in values or financial expectations that can be challenging for some relationships.

Cohabitation Agreements vs. De Facto Relationships

Cohabitation agreements and de facto relationships concern couples living together without marriage, yet they differ significantly in legal terms.

A cohabitation agreement is a proactive legal document that couples voluntarily enter into, detailing how assets, debts, and responsibilities are managed during and after the relationship.

It offers a clear, customised framework for the couple’s financial relationship.

On the other hand, a de facto relationship is recognised by law when two people live together on a genuine domestic basis without the requirement of a formal agreement.

This status grants couples certain rights under Australian family law, similar to those of married couples, in case of separation.

Legal Recognition and Enforcement

In Australia, cohabitation agreements are legally recognised and enforceable, provided they are properly drafted, and both parties have received independent legal advice. This legal standing ensures that the agreement’s terms can be enforced if disputes arise, offering both partners a level of security and predictability.

Key Takeaway 🔑: The legal enforceability of cohabitation agreements provides a solid foundation for couples to rely on in times of dispute.

How to Create a Cohabitation Agreement

Creating a cohabitation agreement involves several steps, including discussing and agreeing on the terms with your partner, seeking independent legal advice, and drafting the contract to ensure it meets legal standards. It’s essential that both parties fully understand and agree to the terms and that the agreement is tailored to their specific situation.

Key Takeaway 🔑: Proper legal guidance is essential in creating a cohabitation agreement that is fair, comprehensive, and legally binding.

Guidance of Legal Counsel

Cohabitation agreements offer couples living together a way to manage their relationship with confidence and security.

These agreements provide protection and peace of mind by clearly defining the handling of assets, debts, and responsibilities.

Seeking legal advice is crucial in this process, ensuring the contract is legally binding and accurately reflects both parties’ intentions.

A legal professional can also provide valuable insights into individual rights and how to protect them best within the agreement.

Whether you’re entering a new relationship or have been living together for years, considering a cohabitation agreement, with the guidance of legal counsel, is a wise step towards ensuring both partners’ rights and obligations are respected and protected.

Overall Key Takeaway 🔑: Embrace the security and clarity a cohabitation agreement offers. This will ensure your relationship is built on a foundation of mutual understanding and respect, with the added assurance of legal protection.

Director of Melbourne Family Lawyers, Hayder manages the practice and oversees the running of all of the files in the practice. Hayder has an astute eye for case strategy and running particularly complex matters in the family law system.

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