SOARING numbers of unmarried couples who plan to live together are signing 'no-nup' agreements to protect their wealth if they decide to split.
A leading law firm said it had seen a doubling in the number of people entering into cohabitation agreements over the past five years.
The 'no-nup' is so-called because it refers to couples who do not intend to marry and so will not use pre-nuptial agreements.
Cohabitation agreements are popular among the wealthy and can cover areas of potential conflict such as shared bank accounts.
The written contracts are designed to ensure assets brought into a relationship remain under an individual's control if a couple decide to go their separate ways.
It is similar to a pre-nuptial agreement, in that it sets out what would happen to the property, joint outgoings and inheritance if the couple parted.
They can be drawn up by a solicitor and stipulate who is responsible for loans, what happens if one partner dies and whether one partner should be able to buy the other out of their share of property if they split.
They can also cover areas of potential conflict such as who pays household bills and whether the couple will have joint credit cards and bank accounts.
Family law expert Deborah Jeff said: "During the recession especially, people have become very protective of wealth and will fight tooth and nail to ensure that money which is theirs is ring-fenced.
"It is the greatest protection for a couple outside of marriage."