OSullivan Family Law background image

Relationship Agreements

Relationship Agreements

For those considering cohabitation (or are already in a cohabiting relationship) I advise you enter into a relationship agreement, otherwise known as Deeds of Trust or Declarations of Trust. Before doing so I highly recommend doing some initial work together as a couple.


I ask you to use ‘Designing Our Future Together’ workbooks. These exciting workbooks help you plan for your next chapter. As a couple you’ll discover the following:

  1. What are your values?
  2. What are your communication styles?
  3. How do you give and receive love and support - what will work for the other?
  4. How will you make financial decisions? What are your attitudes to money?
  5. Will there be (more) children?
  6. What will happen to any pets?
  7. And anything else that’s really important to you both.

Using the workbook, you both start to think about the legal stuff and to gather the information needed for me to a cohabitation agreement.

These workbooks mean that our work together will be ‘relationship optimistic’, hopeful and look to the future with loving pragmatism.

The process options of Collaboration, Mediation and One Solicitor: One Couple can be used to assist you to formalise (as far as possible) your financial settlement and arrangements should their relationship come to an end. Sadly, most people do not consider these options. This is because many people find them unromantic or indicate a lack of trust in each other. I would say that it’s easier to try to think through the implications of separating when things are going well rather than wait until the breakup when emotions are running high.

What kinds of cohabitation agreements are there?

If you are planning to live together and own property together then I would advise both a co-habitation agreement and a Deed of Trust/Declaration of Trust. The co-habitation agreement will consider how you will manage your financial affairs (e.g. who pays the bills). The deed of trust will set out who owns what share of the property/land. Both can be very simple documents or very complex ones depending on your circumstances.

NB No automatic rights are extended to partners because they have cohabited for a certain length of time; i.e., there is no such thing as common law marriage.