Advice Centre


International Assets and Cohabitation Agreements

Couples from all over the world come to live and work in the UK and, like millions of others, many will choose to live together but not marry. However, the law governing unmarried couples varies greatly from country to country, and if you have come to the UK with expectations of what will happen if the relationship should come to an end, you may wish to give yourself that certainty.

We understand that the affairs of international families can be complicated and may include challenges such as working or holding asset overseas, different immigration statuses, complex tax matters and more. In this article, we look at some of the matters you may wish to consider when looking into protecting your assets using a cohabitation agreement.

What is a cohabitation agreement?

A cohabitation agreement can allow you (to a certain extent) to include similar provisions to the laws of your home country, or simply provide certainty around what will happen to assets held overseas should you and your partner separate.


The law concerning property ownership in England and Wales may be vastly different from the laws of your home country or the country you are moving from. When entering into a cohabitation agreement, you may need to seek advice from a locally qualified property or family lawyer to understand the effect of a cohabitation agreement on the property held there. While many jurisdictions will find a UK cohabitation agreement to be enforceable, some will not. We can advise you fully on the effect of a cohabitation agreement on the division of property held overseas. 

Financial arrangements

When you agree to live with someone, you may wish to make arrangements for how everyday living costs will be covered. Financial arrangements become more complicated where one party will frequently live or work overseas, or for couples where one party has moved and the other remains in their home country for some time.

You may wish to discuss with your partner who will pay for what before moving to the UK and who will cover any additional costs. Agreement around living or moving costs can be recorded in a cohabitation agreement and can provide you both with certainty and security moving forward.


If you have children, either together or from a previous relationship, you may find that the legal status of parents in the UK is different to that of your home country. 

You might want to take your children out of the country to visit family in your home country or to go on holiday. However, there are certain legal requirements for taking children out of the country, including needing permission from all of those with parental responsibility. You may wish to ensure there is a court order in place which allows you to take a child out of the country.

The law concerning cohabitation, financial provision for children and international parents is complex. Where a relationship breaks down and one parent wants to move away, this can present significant difficulties. You should seek specialist advice on this area.

Ill health and death

While a cohabitation agreement covers the arrangements for how you will live together and what might happen should the relationship break down, you may also wish to consider what will happen should one of you lose mental capacity or pass away.

While these matters are generally not dealt with in a cohabitation agreement, this is a good opportunity to look at other ways in which you can protect yourself and your partner.

You may have a Will or Power of Attorney set up in your home country, but it is essential that you also take steps to create these important legal documents in the UK too.

In England and Wales, cohabiting couples are not automatically afforded the same rights as married couples. This means that your partner may not inherit from your estate without a valid Will in place if you pass away. Similarly, no one has an automatic right to make decisions on your behalf should you lose mental capacity – not even your next of kin. As a result, you should set up a Power of Attorney that gives you security and protection.

Contact Our Cohabitation UK Solicitors Today

Our UK offices are located in Manchester, Birmingham and London. Call our multi-cultural cohabitation experts today on 0330 107 0107 or arrange a call back.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.

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