Some family lawyers say the figures have doubled in the last few years.
The increase coincides with the growing trend for parents to provide their children with large sums to help buy a property, invest in a business idea or even to cover living costs.
Many parents now insist on written agreements to ensure the money isn’t lost or wasted if their children later separate from their partners. Cohabitation agreements can ensure that family assets aren’t put at risk if a relationship breaks down.
These agreements are very important because, unlike married couples, cohabiting couples have very few automatic legal rights. This can cause numerous problems. For example, if a house is in one partner’s name, the other partner will not be entitled to stay there if asked to leave. Nor will they automatically be entitled to a share in the proceeds if the house is sold, even if they helped to pay for it over many years.
There is also no entitlement to maintenance for the partner who is financially weaker, even if they sacrificed some of their career prospects to stay at home to look after children.
Cohabitation agreements can help address these issues and help protect the interests of both partners should their relationship break down.
The agreements can also help ensure that hard earned money handed over by parents is protected and used correctly.