Cohabitation (living together unmarried) agreement

Last updated: December 2020 | 5 min read

The law provides no special protection to a person leaving a relationship which is not marriage. These are also known as de facto relationships in Australia. De facto relationships come under the jurisdiction of the Family Law Act 1975 only when there are children involved; although a parliamentary review committee is considering whether the Act should be extended to cover all such relationships.

The legal system seems to be inconsistent in the way it deals with these relationships; laws vary between states, between the states and the Commonwealth, and even between government departments. But while there is a need for consistency within the law and social policy, it needs to be understood at a personal level of what you are getting into.

If your relationship breaks up how likely is it that you will both continue to be kind, reasonable and sensible and that all the terms of the split will be agreed by both of you?

Committing to a relationship and living together affects not only your lives but your money, possessions, children, and other important aspects of your future.

Imagine having to walk away with nothing.

It does not have to be that way! Only Net Lawman offers you a cohabitation agreement which covers almost everything (as well as a simpler version designed for a shorter term)

The Net Lawman cohabitation agreements provide the framework for you to make a sensible, realistic, fair and binding agreement.

You should also each make a will and make sure a jointly owned house is owned as “tenants in common” with defined shares;

Here are some of the problems a good agreement will solve:

The House

If just one of you owns the house you live in, he / she can throw the other out at any time, loc, stock and barrel, clothes, car, computer and dog. This could be disastrous for work, storage of personal possessions, pets, transport and more.

The starting point is to agree who owns what share and whether the shares change over time. Right now, you may not have planned far into the future, but imagine a break up after five, ten or even twenty years. Imagine one of you looks after four children and does not work. Imagine what happens if one of you becomes severely injured or even dies.

What happens if you buy a house together, but only one of you can afford the mortgage repayments? Or suppose only one of you owns but both make the repayments.

Division of assets

We provide a clever proposal for a graduated capital payment depending on the comparative wealth of both parties. You decide what proportions, what period. We just give you the framework

Monthly maintenance

Again we give you a formula and draft a few rules to go with it, so that you can work out together what you could afford to pay or how much you absolutely must receive.

Children arrangements

A difficult one - but even here we have given you a framework to play with, so that the child or children get looked after. No children yet? Well, don’t bank on it. There are surprises every day.

An unmarried father can acquire joint parental responsibility or even sole parental responsibility, by applying to the court for an order. He can apply for joint parental responsibility, a residence order (that the child live with him rather than his/her mother), or a contact order (that he should be entitled to see his child on a regular, specified basis).

A more immediate problem might arise if the parties fall out, and separate and fight over the children immediately. If it is clear that the children are suffering or may suffer, it is likely that the local authority will take them into care. A well constructed agreement, followed by the parties when the bad times come, will enable the children to continue their lives as near normally as possible, as well as the parents their own lives.


However remote the chance of death of one of you may seem, you should consider and account for it. After all, you are entering into this agreement largely as an insurance policy, so you may as well deal with it thoroughly.

There is an additional problem with a death: either party may change a will at any time and if there is none, the normal rules of intestacy apply. A “life partner” is entitled to nothing.

Nevertheless, we recommend that you do each make a will. Despite the possibility of change, it is better than no wills at all.

Businesses and employment

It often happens that at some stage of the relationship, the parties decide one to help the other in a business, or to be a director of his / her company, or to set up a business together. While it is impossible to know what the future holds, let alone plan for it, the long version of the Net Lawman cohabitation agreement provides a framework into which you can plan for possibilities.

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